Working with academic and industry partners to utilize the space station to inspire students and advance science literacy is a key focus area for the ISS National Lab. Each year, the ISS National Lab engages students and educators in powerful science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education programs through Space Station Explorers—a community of educators, learners, and organizations that leverage the unique platform of the ISS National Lab to provide valuable educational experiences for students in grades K-12 and higher education.
In FY22, more than 9.5 million people participated in the 25 partner programs within the Space Station Explorers community (see full list on the Space Station Explorers partner program page), nearly triple the number of individuals reached in FY21. Additionally, the ISS National Lab’s online resources were accessed by more than 17.6 million online users. This year, nearly 40 percent of participants in Space Station Explorers partner programs were female, and more than 30 percent represented underserved communities. The ISS National Lab gained five new partner programs in FY22: PocketLab, Beyond School Hours, the National Center for Simulation, the SETI Institute, and the University of California, San Francisco.
Space Station Explorers partner programs with far reach in FY22 include the following:
- ARISS (Amateur Radio on the ISS), a free program that allows students to talk directly with ISS crew members via ham radio, reached more than 160,000 people.
- ISS-Above, which offers a small device that provides ISS location alerts and live video streaming from space, reached more than 88,000 people.
- Sally Ride EarthKam, a free program that allows students to take digital images of Earth from the ISS, reached more than 100,000 people.
- Story Time From Space, a free program that provides video recordings of astronauts reading books from onboard the space station, reached more than 5.8 million people.
- Tomatosphere™, a free program in which students compare the growth of tomato plants from seeds flown on the ISS versus seeds that remained on Earth, reached more than 190,000 people.
“Whether contacting astronauts on the ISS or designing a microgravity experiment, educators can provide their students with many pathways to STEM careers through participation in Space Station Explorers partner programs. It is critical to equip students with the technical skills that will be required in the future workforce, and the ISS National Lab is a valuable tool to accomplish this.”
- Melissa Pore, Educator at Bishop O’Connell High School in Virginia, Space Station Ambassador, and ISS National Lab User Advisory Committee member
The Space Station Ambassador program, through which educators, leaders, and lifelong learners share information on Space Station Explorers activities with their communities, continued to expand this year. The program gained more than 400 members in FY22, bringing the total to more than 2,000 Ambassadors. This year, two Space Station Ambassadors were selected to receive Space Station Explorers Exceptional Ambassador Awards, and one was selected to receive the first Tony So Excellence in Education Award.
Additional key educational activities in FY22 include the following:
- The ISS National Lab launched Expedition Space Lab, an online tool that provides educators with easy access to free ISS-related lessons and activities to integrate into their curriculum. It also highlights additional Space Station Explorer partner program resources that have associated costs but provide a more engaging learning experience.
- Through an inaugural funding opportunity this year, the ISS National Lab selected five organizations to receive funding to purchase Expedition Space Station resources.
- The ISS National Lab selected three recipients for the inaugural James A. Abrahamson Space Leader Fellowship, a 12-month advanced learning experience for undergraduate and graduate students to develop the skills and knowledge for space-related careers.
- Mattel released its “You Can Be Anything” YouTube series episode featuring footage of two Barbie dolls onboard the ISS, resulting in more than 170,000 views. The dolls launched to station earlier in the year as part of an ISS National Lab-sponsored project from Mattel to capture footage to inspire young girls to pursue STEM careers. The project’s launch led to 78 million media impressions and more than 1.8 million social media impressions.
- At ISSRDC 2022, the Genes in Space™ program announced the winner of its annual student research competition: a North Carolina high school student whose experiment could lead to a better understanding of aging and cancer development.