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YouTube Space Lab Inspires Budding Scientists

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Screen shot of: http://www.youtube.com/user/spacelab/spacelab
YouTube, in cooperation with NASA, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), European Space Agency (ESA), the U.S. National Laboratory Office, and several other sponsors, are in the middle of a most inspiring science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM,-related contest through the YouTube Space Lab. Last year, students 14-18 years old were invited to design scientific investigations, involving biology or physics, to be conducted onboard the International Space Station by crew members in a microgravity environment.

The submission period has ended, but the contest is currently in the judging stage. The judging panel is made up of an international group of experts – scientists, imagineers, leaders, educators and explorers – including astronauts and Stephen Hawking. The public was also included in the judging process by being asked to view the video submissions first and vote on their favorite proposed investigation. Now that the public has chosen their favorites, the distinguished panel of judges will make the final decisions. Though no additional submissions are being accepted, and public voting has ended, it might be inspiring and idea-generating to watch these videos with your kids, grandkids or students. This could lead to some fascinating discussions and maybe even some great science fair projects.

Back-dropped by planet Earth, the International Space Station (ISS) is seen from NASA space shuttle Endeavour after the station and shuttle began their post-undocking relative separation May 29, 2011 in space. (NASA photo)
Back-dropped by planet Earth, the International Space Station (ISS) is seen from NASA space shuttle Endeavour after the station and shuttle began their post-undocking relative separation May 29, 2011 in space. (NASA photo)
The winning investigations will be flown on the space station and conducted by station crew members. The investigations will be streamed on YouTube for classrooms worldwide to follow their progress.

Students have shown an amazing capacity for using the space station to investigate some very interesting and important concepts. Originally, there were 2,000 student investigations from 80 countries submitted for consideration with 60 chosen as finalists. Voting whittled the list down to six top regional winners, announced Feb. 21, with the final two global winners to be announced March 31. This is only one of many education activities planned for the Expedition 30-31 timeframe. Students submitted videos limited to no more than two-minutes in length to the YouTube website for consideration.

This event has the capacity to expose hundreds of thousands of students around the world to the excitement of space and to the unique scientific platform the station provides. The “http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/news/YouTube.html”>International Space Station Research & Technology website highlighted this story back in October 2011, though a couple of the competition dates have changed since the story published.


Lori Keith
Johnson Space Center, Houston
281-792-7890

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Updated: 03/07/2012