'Take your classroom into space' winners announced

17 June 2008

The winners of the 'Take your classroom into space' call for education ideas have been selected. The two best experiment ideas will be performed in space by ESA astronaut Frank De Winne during his spaceflight in 2009. Pupils throughout Europe will be able to compare results obtained in their classroom to those obtained in space.

With Europe's Columbus laboratory recently attached to the International Space Station (ISS), ESA invited European educators to propose new ideas for experiments that can be carried out onboard the Station to demonstrate the effects of weightlessness to young students.

Unique environment

ISS after addition of Japanese Kibo module
The International Space Station, the largest international space project of all time

The International Space Station, the largest international space project of all time, orbits the Earth at an altitude of 400 km, providing a unique location in which to carry out experiments in a weightless environment.

Primary and secondary school teachers and other educators, such as those involved in science education at a museum, or an educational organisation, were challenged to come up with original ideas that use this unique aspect of the ISS to illustrate to students the effects of gravity and weightlessness.

ESA received many interesting proposals from throughout the ESA Member States in response to the call. A panel of judges including education experts, scientists, space engineers and ESA astronaut Frank De Winne selected the top 20 entries.

Space and ground

ESA's Columbus laboratory on the ISS
Columbus was attached to the ISS in February this year

The two best experiment ideas will be developed for flight during De Winne's six-month International Space Station mission currently set for launch in May 2009. A parallel activity on the ground will be developed to allow European school students to perform the same experiment in their classroom. The activity will conclude with a live event during De Winne's mission, where students will be given the opportunity to compare their results with those obtained in the microgravity environment.

All top 10 entries receive 500 Euros, plus educational material and a scale model ISS kit. A further ten runners-up receive educational material and a scale model ISS kit. All winners will be contacted over the coming weeks to be officially informed about their prize.

The proposals received in response to the call address students from 9 to 18 years old, covering almost all groups from primary to secondary school level. Topics proposed range from physics and life sciences, through to arts and technology.

The ISS Education Team expresses its gratitude to all who responded to the call. All readers are invited to regularly check the ESA website for updates about the 'Take your classroom into space' experiments, including how to participate on the ground, the latest news about Frank De Winne's ISS mission and how to follow the live event.

Winners

The two best proposals and the winning entries are:

First place (joint winners):

Project title Name School
Measuring the mass of an object in a zero gravity environment Theodoros Pierratos 2nd Lucyum of Echedoros, Diavata, Greece
How are cosmonauts weighed? Anicet Cosialls Les Guindavols, Lleida, Spain
How healthy is an astronaut? Check his weight Mieke Recour Onze Lieve Vrouwecollege, Oostende, Belgium

(With a special mention for Theodoros Pierratos' project)

For their demonstration, students will have the opportunity to calculate the mass of an object on the ISS by measuring the time it takes to oscillate whilst hooked onto a spring. The experiment will help to illustrate the difference between the concepts of weight and mass.

Second place (joint winners):

Project title Name School
Exploring Capillarity and surface tension Jef Luyten Rozenberg S.O., Mol, Belgium
Capillarity without gravity Luigi Lombardo Liceo ScientificoSeveri, Milan, Italy

(With a special mention for Jef Luyten's project)

Their demonstration aims to illustrate the effects of weightlessness on capillarity and to understand how gravity affects this amazing phenomenon.

The remaining top 10 entries:

Project title Name School
(=3rd) Does it float? Francesco Serafini ITIS E. Mattei, Urbino , Italy
(=3rd) Archimede's ball * David Tosolini Immaginario scientifico, Trieste, Italy
(=3rd) Would Archimedes shout Eureka! in the ISS? Lieve Van Assche Mariagaarde Instituut, Malle, Belgium
(4th) MicroArchimedes: fluids in microgravity, or "The disappearance of Archimedes" Marco Nicolini Liceo Scientifico A. Tassoni, Modena, Italy
(5th) Convection needs gravity Jaume Riera Codina IES Montserrat Roig, Terrassa, Spain

In positions 11-20:

Project title Name School
(6th) Amazing Magnetic Field Joachim Lerch Science House, Rust, Germany
(7th) Doing art in space Antonio Richart Escola Lestonnac, Badalona, Spain
(8th) Soap bubbles Friederike Hoffmann Grundschule Auf dem Loh, Hannover, Germany
(=9th) Demonstration of Pascal's principle Francesco Marazzi Liceo Scientifico E. Stein, Varese, Italy
(=9th) The strength of the water * Dieter Scholz Grundschule Mitte, Nördlingen, Germany
(10th) Influence of gravity on the existence of life Laura Camacho IES Pedro Muñoz Seca, Cadiz, Spain
(11th) Goal Hubert Baudouin Scientastic Museum, Brussels, Belgium
(=12th) How does convection works? Nigel Bowen Endeford Business & Enterprise College, Wolverhampton, United Kingdom
(=12th) Convection without gravity * Jon Tarrant Hautlieu School, Jersey, United Kingdom
(13th) Effect of gravity on the organization of multilayers of immiscible liquids of different densities Cesar Prado Colegio de San Francisco de Paula, Sevilla, Spain

(* For joint winners, these projects receive a special mention)

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