Students’ Experiments To Be Conducted In Space

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An illustration of the space station

A technical illustration of the space station. Image: NASA

Three students have won the chance to have science experiments they created carried out by astronauts in space.

The students won an international competition called the YouTube Space Lab Contest. Last October, students around the world aged 14 to 18 were invited to come up with ideas for experiments that could be performed on the International Space Station.

The space station is a satellite that orbits the Earth. It includes a research laboratory where astronauts from the United States, Russia, Japan, Europe and Canada conduct experiments. Because there is no gravity on the space station, they are able to do experiments they could not do on Earth.

For the contest, students had to make a video explaining their hypothesis – the idea they wanted to test – and the method for doing the experiment. Then they posted the videos on YouTube.

Winners were chosen by people voting on YouTube, and by a panel of judges that included scientists, teachers, astronauts and journalists.

Dorothy Chen and Sara Ma; image: You Tube Space Lab Contest website

Dorothy Chen and Sara Ma; image: You Tube Space Lab Contest website

The winners were announced in March. They are Amr Mohamed, 18, from Egypt, and Dorothy Chen and Sara Ma, both 16, from the United States.

Amr’s experiment will test the effects of zero gravity – or weightlessness – on zebra spiders. Zebra spiders catch food by leaping onto it. But without gravity, the spider would continue travelling in a straight line when it leaps, instead of landing on its prey. Amr wants to find out if the spiders can learn to hunt in a weightless environment.

Dorothy and Sara want to study a type of bacteria, called Bacillus subtilis, which kills fungus. They want to see whether feeding it certain nutrients in a zero-gravity environment will make it better at killing fungus on Earth. If it works, it could be used to help fight disease one day.

An astronaut will conduct the winning experiments on the space station sometime this summer and broadcast them live on YouTube.

As part of their prize, the winners also got to choose between a trip to Japan to watch their experiments being launched into space, or a week of cosmonaut training in Russia. Dorothy and Sara will go to Japan. Amr chose the cosmonaut training.

The contest was organized by YouTube, a website that lets users share videos, and Lenovo, a company that makes computers.

Amr Mohamed; Image: YouTube Space Lab Contest website

Amr Mohamed; Image: YouTube Space Lab Contest website

Related websites
Contest website
Canadian Space Agency page on the International Space Station

CURRICULUM CONNECTIONS
By Kathleen Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
Work with a partner to invent an experiment that could be done in space. What would you want the astronauts to do and why?

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While you read the article, monitor what questions you ask yourself to make sure you understand.

Primary
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Verbs (action words) can be written in several tenses. Find  examples of sentences written in each of the following three tenses: past, present and future.