The European Space Agency has a responsibility to educate the youth of Europe in matters concerning space exploration and it is constantly looking for new ways to engage educators and their students. As the power of social media grows they have decided to make the most of it.
If you know a student between the ages of 14 and 18 who has a keen interest in science, you might want to tell them about YouTube Space Lab, an innovative venture that will see Google working with the ESA, Lenovo, NASA, JAXA and Space Adventures to promote scientific experimentation in space.
Interested parties must suggest an experiment that could be done in space, and the application needs to be made in the form of an explanatory video posted to YouTube before 7th December 2011. Candidates will be selected by a panel of international judges including astronauts from JAXA, NASA, CSA and the ESA, and Stephen Hawking. They will be calling on the YouTube community to help them make their choices.
The International Space Station is featured in this image photographed by an STS-133 crew member on Space Shuttle Discovery after the Station and Shuttle began their post-undocking relative separation. Undocking of the two spacecraft occurred at 12:00 CET on 7 March 2011. Discovery spent eight days, 16 hours, and 46 minutes attached to the orbiting laboratory. NASA photo S133-E-010422; Credit: NASA
While the style of competition may seem a little 'alternative' the entries must follow the principles of a good traditional experiment. It must start with a question and a hypothesis and be supported with a proposed method and expected results.
The shortlist of 60 candidates will be published in the first week of January 2012. This will then be whittled down through a combination of public votes and the decisions of the panel. Two overall winners will be selected in March.
The winning experiment will be conducted on the International Space Station and streamed via YouTube across the world. As if this were not impressive enough, the project is offering additional incentives including computers, trips to Japan or Russia and the opportunity to experience a zero-gravity flight.
This is a wonderful chance to inspire interest in science and space exploration for the competitors and the audience around the world and Thomas Reiter of the ESA is excited to be a part of it, "The 'YouTube Space Lab' campaign is an excellent, creative way of reaching out to future generations of scientists, on the ground and in orbit. Today, numerous fundamental and applied research experiments in life and physical sciences, Earth and space monitoring as well as technology and education are performed on our Columbus laboratory on the ISS, closely coupled to terrestrial research programmes and issues."