Inspiring the next generation of space industry workers and advancing science literacy among our nation’s students is a key focus area for the ISS National Lab. In FY23, the number of users that accessed ISS National Lab online educational products surpassed 25.5 million. Additionally, more than 10 million people participated in the 25 partner programs within Space Station Explorers, a community of educators, learners, and organizations that leverages the unique platform of the ISS National Lab to provide valuable educational experiences for students in grades K-12 and higher education. The ISS National Lab also gained three new educational partners in FY23: Club for the Future (Blue Origin’s educational foundation), Limitless Space Institute, and Luminary Labs.
Through Space Station Explorers, the ISS National Lab provides access to impactful science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) educational programs that allow students to engage directly with astronauts on station, track the ISS from their classroom, and even design their own experiments to be done on the orbiting laboratory. By engaging students in Space Station Explorers programs, the ISS National Lab aims to promote diversity and outreach into underserved demographics. For example, in FY23:
- Partner program io provided powerful educational opportunities for underrepresented communities through an investigation that allowed students to study the sequestration of carbon by plants on station. This investigation was awarded through an ISS National Lab research announcement focused on educational outreach and workforce development.
- ARISS (Amateur Radio on the ISS), a free program that allows students to talk with ISS crew members via ham radio, hosted its first-ever contact in Antarctica with 50 students at the remote Esperanza Base Research Station’s school. ARISS can now boast supporting schools on all seven continents.
The Space Station Ambassador program provides a means for educators, leaders, and lifelong learners to share information on Space Station Explorers activities with their communities. This year, the ISS National Lab presented two ambassadors with awards, one receiving the Space Station Explorers Exceptional Ambassador Award and the other receiving the Tony So Excellence in Education Award.
“This fellowship has been a great opportunity for me. It has helped me gain experience with the research I want to get into, which ultimately helped me earn a spot in the U.S. National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program.”
– Taylor Peterson, a 2022 recipient of the James A. Abrahamson Space Leader Fellowship
Additional key educational and workforce development activities in FY23 include the following:
- At ISSRDC 2023, the Genes in Space™ program announced the winner of its annual student research competition: Isabel Jiang, a California high school student whose experiment could help researchers understand why latent viruses reactivate.
- The ISS National Lab selected a recipient for the 2023 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.
- The ISS National Lab STEM education team directly interacted with more than 250 undergraduate and graduate students at the second annual Astronaut Memorial Foundation Career and Networking Event, fielding questions about careers within the space industry and other STEM fields.
- The ISS National Lab presented awards to two graduate students for their posters at the annual American Society for Gravitational and Space Research (ASGSR) conference.
- The new Student Mission Control online tool and curriculum, developed by the ISS National Lab in collaboration with the University of California, Berkley and ARISS through an NSF-funded grant, was pilot tested with a group of high school educators in California. Through the tool, students can engage in computer science-focused learning activities that use real data from sensors on the ISS.
- To highlight student experiments launching on SpaceX CRS-26, the ISS National Lab hosted a launch event at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center that included a student poster session and provided an opportunity for the students to present their research.
- For the Space Foundation’s 38th Space Symposium, the ISS National Lab sponsored the teacher liaison breakfast with a keynote address from Emmy-winning TV host and social media influencer Steve Spangler.
- ISS National Lab User Advisory Committee (UAC) education sub-committee chair Stephen White and UAC member Melissa Poore attended the U.S. Department of Education YOU Belong in STEM National Coordinating Conference.