The 'Take your classroom into space' activity is part of the education programme of ESA's Directorate of Human Spaceflight and is one of several education activities planned for ESA astronaut Frank De Winne's OasISS mission.
With the European Columbus laboratory attached to the International Space Station (ISS) in February 2008, educators throughout Europe were invited to propose new ideas for experiments that can be carried out on the ISS to demonstrate the effects of freefall to European students.
The two best experiment ideas (proposed independently by five teachers) 'Do objects have weight in space?' and 'Exploring capillarity' were selected to be performed on the ISS during the six-month OasISS mission.
ESA astronaut Frank De Winne is about to start his journey to the International Space Station, where he will spend six months, first as a member of the Expedition 20 crew and later as commander of Expedition 21.
During his mission, called OasISS, De Winne will perform the two curriculum-relevant demonstrations inside the Columbus laboratory using a standalone education kit. The demonstration will be supported by a live inflight call, featuring De Winne performing the experiments and answering questions from students. The inflight call is currently scheduled for 21 September.
Order the Education Kit
An Education Kit containing the same hardware De Winne will use in orbit is now also available for order via the online order form. The kits will be distributed for free to European teachers on a first-come first-served basis.
The Education Kit contains all the elements needed to perform the same demonstrations on the ground and allows European secondary school students (14 to 18 years old) to compare their results with those obtained by De Winne on the ISS, thereby helping the students to learn about the conditions of freefall.
The Education Kit comes with a teaching guide written by European teachers and translated to Dutch, French, German, Greek, Italian and Spanish. The guide provides step-by-step instructions to help perform the demonstrations, exercises and questions, as well as an introduction to ESA, the ISS, and the freefall environment.
A video recording of the experiments performed on the ISS will be available from September 2009. The video is an essential part of the 'Take your classroom into space' activity.
To maximise the impact of the 'Take your classroom into space' activity, a European multi-located event is currently being organised in the home cities of the five winning teachers: Barcelona, Spain (Cosmocaixa), Mechelen, Belgium (Technopolis), Milan, Italy (Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia), and Thessaloniki, Greece (NOESIS).
This event will host the live inflight call with De Winne, as well as other activities related to ESA's human spaceflight programme and the 'Take your classroom into space' activity. Further information will follow.