YouTube space lab contest winners

The YouTube Space Lab contest (mentioned here in an Oct. 12, 2011 posting) recently announced its two global winners (winners will get to have their research carried out on the space station). From the March 22, 2012 Space Adventures press release,

YouTube, Lenovo, and Space Adventures today announced the two global winners of YouTube Space Lab (youtube.com/spacelab), the worldwide science competition that challenged 14-18 year-olds to design a science experiment that can be performed in space.

Amr Mohamed from Egypt (17-18 year old age group) and Dorothy Chen and Sara Ma from the U.S. (14-16 year old age group) were awarded the honor at a ceremony in Washington, DC, attended by members of Space Lab partners including the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).  The students will have their experiments conducted by astronauts 250 miles above Earth aboard the International Space Station (ISS) and live streamed to the world on a Lenovo ThinkPad laptop via YouTube later this year.

Amr Mohamed, 18, from Alexandria, Egypt, came up with an experiment to explore the question: “Can you teach an old spider new tricks?”  Amr proposed investigating the effects of microgravity on the way the zebra spider catches its prey and whether it could adapt its behavior in this environment.  “The idea of sending an experiment into space is the most exciting thing I have ever heard in my life,” said Amr. “Winning YouTube Space Lab means everything to me, to my family, and to the people of the Middle East.”

Dorothy Chen and Sara Ma, both 16, who attend Troy High School in Troy, Michigan, created an experiment that asks: “Could alien superbugs cure disease on Earth?”  Dorothy and Sara want to send bacteria to the space station to see if introducing different nutrients and compounds can block their growth in the hopes of providing new tools to fight germs on Earth.  “The idea that something that is your experiment being sent up into space and actually becoming a reality is incredible,” said Sara. “I definitely want to pursue science as a career,” added Dorothy.

The global winners were in Washington, DC, with the regional winners, from the article by Nidhi Subbaraman on the Fast Company website,

Six teens between the ages of 14 and 18 from the U.S., Spain, Egypt, India, and New Zealand were just rewarded for their stellar science projects with a Zero-G flight above Washington, D.C., courtesy of Space Adventures.

… [Four regional winners:]

  • Patrick Zeng and Derek Chan from New Zealand hoped to see if heat transfers between hot and cold fluids would occur differently in a gravity-free environment. The results of their experiment could lead to more efficient heating and cooling systems here on Earth.
  • Spanish middle schoolers Laura Calvo and María Vilas wanted to test how weightless liquids behave–their surface behavior in low gravity have valuable insights into the construction of microelectronics.
  • Emerald Bresnahan, from the U.S., was curious to see how snowflakes would form in space.
  • Indian mechanical engineer in training Sachin Kukke is studying magnetic liquids called ferro fluids, towards understanding if they can absorb heat from the engines of spaceships, pushing them further into space.

You can find the contest videos (190 of them) here at YouTube Space Lab.  To whet your appetite, here’s the video from Amr Mohamed,

Congratulations to everyone who entered the contest.

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