Orlando, FL – Make Magazine, the leading do-it-yourself publication for technology hobbyists and experimenters, is partnering with Teachers in Space to help develop space science kits that high-school teachers can build and fly on suborbital and orbital flights.
Make Magazine will work with Teachers in Space and NASA to promote a contest among the magazine’s readership, commonly known as the “Maker community.” Makers will be invited to submit ideas, concepts, and prototypes for kits that teachers can build for future spaceflights. The contest was announced today at the Next Generation Suborbital Research Conference in Orlando, FL by Teachers in Space project manager Edward Wright.
“We are excited to have a leading media organization like Make onboard as a partner,” Wright said. “The Maker community brings enormous creativity and intellectual assets to the table. The results from this partnership will excite schools and help reverse the decades-long decline in hands-on technology education.”
“Make Magazine believes this contest will provide an opportunity for makers and students to participate in the exploration of space and make a real contribution,” said Dale Dougherty, editor and publisher of Make Magazine.
The rules for the competition are very simple. Finished experiments must be self-contained and fit in a standard Cubesat container (an international standard for small space-science payloads). Kits must be buildable by teachers using facilities that are likely to be available in well-equipped high school. Additional details will be available on the Make Magazine website. In addition, NASA will be producing a series of video webcasts/podcasts on experiment development for the Maker community.
Although the contest is intended as an on-going multi-year project, the first winners will be selected this spring. The first-place winner will receive a trip to the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, CA for an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour, but the real prize is the opportunity to design and develop something that will actually fly in space, Dougherty said.
The first experiment kits to be selected will fly aboard the Excelsior STEM mission, an unmanned suborbital mission sponsored by Teachers in Space and scheduled to fly aboard a Masten Space Systems reusable launch vehicle (RLV) in 2011. Experiment kits for the Excelsior STEM mission will be assembled by teachers at a Suborbital Flight Experiment Workshop to be held at the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center’s AERO Institute in Palmdale, CA the week of August 1-5.
“This workshop and the Excelsior STEM mission provide a historic opportunity for high-school teachers to gain hands-on experience with space-science hardware,” Wright said. “In the past, NASA has conducted build/fly workshops that enabled teachers and students to fly experiments on sounding rockets and high-altitude balloons. Unfortunately, such flight opportunities are rare and expensive.
“The United States is about to enter a new era in space exploration. Companies like Masten Space Systems are developing suborbital reusable launch vehicles — fully reusable rocketships — that will bring about a revolution in frequent, low-cost access to space.
“Suborbital RLVs will provide reliable and affordable flight opportunities for scientists, teachers, and students. In a few years, students flying experiments in space will become commonplace — as common as high-school science fairs. At the moment, however, these vehicles are still in the early stages of development. This workshop and mission will provide teachers with a unique early flight opportunity during this phase of experimentation. By introducing teachers to the next generation of space hardware at an early stage, we hope to train and inspire leaders who will open the door for many education flights in the future.”
The Suborbital Flight Experiment Workshop is part of a series of professional-development workshops for high-school teachers being developed by Teachers in Space under a cooperative agreement with NASA. Details on the workshops and a workshop application can be found at:
NASA Press Release: NASA Launches 2011 Nationwide Technology Space Competition for Education
Lt. Col. Steve Heck (USAF-ret.)