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UK: Take Your Classroom Into Space

June 22, 2009

A Europe-wide education event will link the International Space Station with hundreds of schoolchildren in several European cities. In a live link-up with the ISS, scheduled for September 21, ESA astronaut Frank De Winne will perform a simple experiment in space to demonstrate the effects of freefall.

The event is enabled by ESA’s Directorate of Human Spaceflight and its Erasmus Centre and will be co-hosted by four European science museums. The ‘Take your classroom into space’ activity is one of several education activities planned during De Winne’s ongoing six-month OasISS mission on the International Space Station (ISS). 

Demonstrations

De Winne will perform the curriculum-relevant demonstration inside the European Columbus laboratory using a standalone education kit. The experiment was selected from ideas proposed by European educators in response to a call for experiments that can be carried out on the ISS to demonstrate the effects of freefall.

One of the two best experiment ideas, which were proposed independently by five teachers, ‘Do objects have weight in space?’ and ‘Exploring Capillarity’ will be demonstrated by De Winne during the live link-up.

Using the ‘Take your classroom into space’ Education Kit, which contains all the elements needed to perform the same demonstrations on the ground, secondary school students (14 to 18 years old) will compare their results with those obtained by De Winne in space, helping them to learn about the conditions of freefall.

During the live link-up with the Station, De Winne will also answer questions from the students.

Four European venues

The event will be co-hosted by four European science museums and centers located close to the home cities of the five teachers who proposed the winning ‘Take your classroom into space’ ideas. These venues are amongst the best-known and most active museums and science centers in Europe. With thousands of visitors every year, they offer innovative didactical exhibits for teachers and schools.

The locations and venues of the ‘Take your classroom into space’ event are:

* CosmoCaixa, Barcelona, Spain

* NOESIS, Thessaloniki, Greece

* Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia, Milan, Italy

* Technopolis®, Mechelen, Belgium

Each venue will host some 200 secondary school students, their teachers and local authority representatives. The four sites will be interconnected for the duration of a three-hour program that will feature videos, hands-on activities, a space-show, a lecture from a space expert, a game and the live call with De Winne.

Schools not able to attend the event at one of the venues can still perform the ‘Take your classroom into space’ activity remotely. The call with De Winne will be made available on the ESA website a few hours after the event. An edited highlights video will be made available later on.

Ordering the Education Kit

An Education Kit containing the same hardware De Winne will use to demonstrate the experiments in orbit is 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 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.

Image Caption: The six-person Expedition 20 crew poses in ‘star-burst’ formation for an inflight portrait in the Harmony node of the International Space Station. Pictured clockwise from right (centre) are cosmonaut Gennady Padalka, commander; Canadian Space Agency astronaut Robert Thirsk, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Koichi Wakata, NASA astronaut Michael Barratt, cosmonaut Roman Romanenko and ESA astronaut Frank De Winne, all flight engineers. Credits: NASA [ More Images ]

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