Robotics Contest: Watch, Cheer and Send Questions

In a challenge simulating planetary exploration, tabletop-size robots must perform different tasks within two minutes. The tasks include placing sensors in volcanoes, deploying habitats and rescuing a stranded “moon buggy,” or small robot. This robotic competition aims to excite and engage students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Competition Game BoardSixteen student teams from nine elementary, middle and high schools will put their software-enabled, battery-powered LEGO robots against the clock in the 5th Annual Southern California Robotics Competition at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., on Tuesday, March 15, 2011. 

Involve your students in the competition by watching the broadcast live on the Web from 12:15 to 3:15 p.m. PDT. You are invited to send in advance your students’ questions about careers in robotics to During the career talk portion of the live program, NASA/JPL robotics engineer Paulo Younse will answer some pre-submitted questions. All questions must be received by Friday, March 11. Questions should be along the lines of “careers in robotics.” Please include either the student’s first name only or school name.

Link to the NES Virtual Campus home page.

Space Station Experiments Proposed by Two NES Schools Selected for the Kids in Micro-g! Challenge

Key Peninsula Middle School and Potlatch Elementary School have experiments that were selected to be conducted this spring in the microgravity environment aboard the International Space Station. Both schools are participating in the NASA Explorer Schools project.

Key Peninsula Middle School in Lakebay, Wash., proposed an experiment, “Pondering the Pendulum.” Their experiment will examine the effects of microgravity on a pendulum.

Potlatch Elementary in Potlatch, Idaho, will be testing, “Pepper Oil Surprise.” It’s an experiment to determine if the buoyancy of an object is affected in a microgravity environment.

This activity reinforces the use of technology to facilitate student collaboration in the use of NES materials and NASA opportunities. These teachers are well on their way to earning NES recognition.

Click here for information about the NES Recognition Opportunities.

Click here for information about the Kids in Micro-g! challenge.

Balloonsat High Altitude Flight Student Competition

Balloon Sat LogoThe BHALF competition is open to teams of four or more students in grades 9 to 12 from high schools and community groups throughout the United States, District of Columbia, and U.S. territories. Teams develop a flight experiment or technology demonstration and submit a proposal for consideration by a panel of NASA scientists and engineers. The panel will select eight teams to design and construct their project for competition. The eight projects will be sent to the near space environment of the stratosphere, or nearly 100,000 feet (~ 50.5 km) above Earth, during several NASA weather balloon launches in Northeastern, Ohio.Proposals are due February 11, 2011. 

For more information, check out the BHALF website.

Link to the NES Virtual Campus.

Potlatch Students Recycle Water for the Moon!

Are you looking for a classroom project that helps students learn about water purification as they work in groups? Like NES educator Laura Wommack, you should check out the Water Limitation Management Water Recycling activity, an extension of the Engineering Design Challenge, Water Filtration.

Laura Wommack, NES educator at Potlatch Junior-Senior High School, completed the Waste Limitation Management Water Recycling Design Challenge with her eighth-grade students. This NASA project challenges students build a water purification system that could be used on the moon. Learn how she used this contest to motivate her students. 

Read about Wommack’s experiences in the NES NEON forum, Engineering Design Challenge: Plant Growth Chamber. Look for the title “Eighth Grade Students Complete Waste Limitation Management Water Recycling Activity.”

Learn more about the Waste Limitation Management Water Recycling Design Challenge at the Teachers Corner.

No Boundaries — Project-based Competition for Students

No Boundaries competition logo
No Boundaries, a USA TODAY education initiative in collaboration with NASA, encourages students to explore careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Students explore STEM careers through stimulating project-based learning and team competition. No Boundaries targets students in grades 7-12 and is designed as a team-centered cooperative learning project. No Boundaries is cross-curricular and requires minimal teacher preparation. It aligns to national standards and includes assessment rubrics. Students who submit their final No Boundaries career presentation projects to the 2011 National No Boundaries Competition are eligible to win up to $2,000 in cash awards for themselves and $500 for their teacher or sponsor. They will receive VIP passes to visit a NASA facility. Winners may be asked to present their work to NASA.

For more information, visit the competition website.

Spaced Out Sports Contest for Students

Spaced out sports logoSpaced Out Sports is a national student design challenge for students in grades 5-8.  The purpose is for students to apply Newton’s Laws of Motion to designing or redesigning a game for International Space Station astronauts to play in space.  As students design a new sport, they learn about Newton’s Laws of Motion and the effect of gravity on an object.  They predict the difference between a game or activity played on Earth and in the microgravity environment of the ISS. 
Participating student teams submit game demonstrations via a playbook and a video.  Winning teams will be selected regionally and nationally by NASA Stennis Space Center’s Education Office.  

Entries must be postmarked by February 1, 2011.

For more information head on over to the Spaced Out Sports website.

Link to the NES Virtual Campus website.