Experimentsdesigned by space-minded elementary and junior high school students areaboutto get the ultimate field trip: A flight to the International SpaceStation,NASA has announced.
NASA hasselected nine student-designed spaceexperiments from a field of 132 projects submittedto its new programcalled "Kids in Micro g!" which challenges students to designexperiments uniquely suited to the microgravity environment of the InternationalSpace Station.
This is thefirst year of the student outreach project in which astronauts on thespacestation perform the experiments designed by kids. The experiments areexpectedto be launched to the station this summer.
"What awonderful experience for these kids to have their experiments carriedout in spaceand by astronauts," said Mark Severance, International Space StationNational Laboratory Education projects manager at NASA's Johnson SpaceCenterin Houston. "This gives students the chance to see what happensdifferently, other than in the classroom, when their experiment isperformed inan environment that is not on Earth."
Yet, thestudents all used an apparatus containing tools commonly found inclassroomsand science experiments. Contest entrants were instructed to designdemonstrations that take no longer than 30 minutes to set up, run, andtakedown.
Theexperiments will study the effectsof weightlessness of liquids, humans, and other materials,and what theresults in the environment show about the laws ofphysics.
Microgravity,or weightlessness, is expected to cause the materials and objects torespond inan observably different way than on Earth.
A team ofrepresentativesat NASA's 10 field centers selected by the student experiments afterevaluatingeach of the 132 entries sent in from schools across the United States.Thewinning schools included:
- Brownell Middle,Grosse Point Farms, Mich. ?(NationalWinner and NASA Glenn Research Center Regional Winner)
- VaughanElementary, Powder Springs, Ga. ?(NationalRunner-up and NASA Kennedy Space Center Regional Winner)
- Hamlin School,San Francisco, Calif. ?(NASAAmes Research Center Regional Winner)
- EastHartford-Glastonbury Magnet, East Hartford, Conn., and Carl SandburgMiddle,Old Bridge, N.J. ?a tie ? (NASA GoddardSpace Flight Center Regional Winners)
- Windy RidgeElementary, Orlando, Fla. ?(NASAKennedy Space Center Regional Winner)
- VirginiaAcademy,Ashburn, Va. ?(NASA LangleyResearch Center RegionalWinner)
Spacestation astronauts will conduct the experimentsaccording to design,and using the same tool kit provided to students, NASA officials said.Nextsummer's program will accept entries this fall, they added.
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Zoe Macintosh is a science writer who covered human spaceflight, astronomy and science for Space.com in 2010. She also covered general science for Space.com's sister site Live Science. Zoe studied English literature and physics at Smith College, where she also wrote for the Smith Sophian. Her work has also appeared in the National Association of Science Writers website.