The word is out: STEM is a big deal! Numerous organizations, governmental entities and academic institutions are ramping up efforts to get students engaged in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. The space research community is also contributing to the proliferation of STEM-based initiatives.
The State of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics address was given last month in Washington D.C. and it echoed the importance of a collaborative effort between institutions to prioritize science-related education. From the classroom to the corporate offices it is important that America takes an active role in fostering a love of learning and instilling that exploratory spirit within our students.
Among one of its main charters, the ISS National Lab is heavily invested in the development of STEM education opportunities to inspire our nation’s youth into the opportunities that exist through space exploration and inquiry. For instance, the ISS National Lab is proud to support the NASA Explorer Schools (NES) program. This program is designed to cultivate a passion for STEM disciplines and expose students to potential STEM Careers. NES provides teachers and students a virtual classroom experience with resources and access to NASA personnel and affiliates. The program has compiled a comprehensive set of NASA STEM materials for instructors to use as well. NES offers educational videos, lesson plans, professional development resources and live chats with NASA personnel or affiliates.
the ISS National Lab President & Executive Director, Greg Johnson along with the ISS National Lab Senior Research Pathway Manager, Dr. Mike Roberts will appear on a NES live discussion on Feb 20th. You can watch it here: https://www.issnationallab.org/NewsEvents/Events/tabid/112/ArticleID/109/ArtMID/587/Default.aspx
The pair will represent the ISS National Lab and talk about current and future experiments on the International Space Station (ISS) and the development and training for astronauts who will activate, follow and provide data from the experiments. Johnson, a former NASA astronaut, certainly can speak on his time in space. While Dr. Roberts, a microbiologist, can elaborate on the vast array of scientific investigations being conducted in space.
Given the ISS National Lab’s unique role of managing the ISS U.S. National Laboratory, our personnel can impart knowledge and perspectives that can broaden students’ horizons and encourage them to think beyond the limitations of gravity. There’s no reason a young inquisitive mind can’t send his/her research to the ISS. In fact, the ISS National Lab has launched the second installment of its STEM initiative, National Design Challenge, which encourages students to do just that—send their research to the ISS.
National Design Challenge-Denver
the ISS National Lab has developed the National Design Challenge (NDC), a pilot program for a STEM education initiative. NDC is designed to give educators and students access to the research potential of the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory (NL).
The NDC will be implemented in middle and high schools in Denver and the surrounding area. Schools will compete to design and implement their own authentic research experiment in an ArduLab that will be sent to the space station. While on orbit, the data from these research experiments will be available for all participants to see and use in their classrooms. Students will be able to compare their ground-based and flight-based experiment data via an ISS downlink.
the ISS National Lab and its industry partners, Infinity Aerospace, SparkFun Electronics and NanoRacks, will assist the schools in experiment/engineering design and payload integration by providing resources, professional development and technical support. the ISS National Lab and BioServe are also industry partners and the recent “Ants in Space” investigation that was launched to the ISS is linked to a STEM initiative.
Ants in Space
The the ISS National Lab-sponsored Ants in Space investigation on the ISS involves eight habitats, each containing approximately 100 pavement ants. The experiment examines how a group of ants interacts within a microgravity environment compared to normal gravity conditions.
Students can follow the ISS experiments and conduct their own ground-based ant investigations at any time. All videos, images and other resources related to the Ants in Space mission are archived on BioEd Online website.
There is a curriculum guide with instructions for students to build their own ground-based habitats, capture their own ants and to learn about ant communication and exploratory behaviors. Students can use the ISS video of “space ants” and their own data to duplicate the ISS experiments on Earth, or come up with their own unique investigations.
Our education team works diligently to support initiatives and create programming that provides students with meaningful educational experiences that will stoke the flames of ingenuity burning within their young minds. As the year progresses, the ISS National Lab will promote and contribute to additional STEM programs.