What’s a good way to generate excitement around the whole world for the International Space Station? Create a contest for kids from anywhere on the planet to have their idea for a science experiment performed by astronauts on the space station, with it live-streamed back to Earth. YouTube SpaceLab is an open competition inviting 14 – 18 year olds to come up with an idea for a science experiment for space. You don’t have to actually do the experiment, you just have to make a 2-minute video of yourself explaining it.
The tagline for this contest is “Your experiment, 250 miles above the Earth, for the whole world to see,” and this should be a really fun and engaging world-wide contest that is sure to generate a lot of interest.
Students in two age categories, 14-16 years old and 17-18 years old, either alone or in groups of up to three, may submit a YouTube video describing their experiment to YouTube.com/SpaceLab, and you can find more information about the contest at that link, too.
Deadline is Dec. 7. The panel of judges is a veritable Who’s Who of space mover and shakers, including Dr. Stephen Hawking, Bertrand Piccard, Professor Colin Pillinger, Peter Diamandis, Guy Laliberté, Richard Garriott, astronauts Leland Melvin, Chris Hadfield, and Bill Gerstenmaier from NASA.
There are some other great prizes, too. Six regional finalists will gather in Washington, D.C., in March 2012 to experience a ZERO-G flight and receive other prizes. From them, two global winners, one from each age group, will be announced and later have their experiments performed 250 miles above Earth and live streamed on YouTube. Additionally, the global winners will get to choose a unique space experience as a prize: either a trip to Tanegashima Island, Japan, to watch their experiment blast off in a rocket bound for the ISS, or once they are 18 years old, a one-of-a-kind astronaut training experience in Star City, Russia, the training center for Russian cosmonauts.
The remaining four regional winners will also receive a trip to the U.S., a ZERO-G flight, and a Lenovo IdeaPad laptop.
The contest is sponsored by YouTube and Lenovo, in cooperation with Space Adventures and space agencies NASA, ESA, and JAXA.
For more info: YouTube.com/SpaceLab
(And yes, it is interesting that while the first video includes shuttle launch imagery the audio is from Apollo. Space mash-up?)