YouTube SpaceLab Launches Student Experiments Into Space

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YouTube and NASA are challenging students to design a science experiment that can be performed in space. Students from 14 to 18 years old can upload videos of their experiments onto YouTube’s Space Lab website.

A panel of scientists, astronauts, and educators, including Stephen Hawking, will judge the entries, and the two winning experiments will be conducted on the International Space Station 250 miles above Earth and live streamed on YouTube.

"The idea of seeing something you conceive and build in your ordinary classroom being actually flown on a rocket, being actually sent to the International Space Station, being actually carried out by a national, is the stuff of fiction. We think that is going to be the thing that gets kids excited," said YouTube’s Zahaan Bharmal, who conceived of the challenge.

NASA's counterparts in Europe and Japan are also participating in the worldwide initiative, as are Lenovo and Space Adventures.

More details: Students in two age categories, 14-16 years old and 17-18 years old, either alone or in groups of up to three, may submit a YouTube video describing their experiment to SpaceLab. From the entries, six regional finalists will be brought to Washington, D.C. in March 2012 to experience a ZERO-G flight and receive other prizes. And from that group, two global winners, one from each age group, will be announced and later have their experiments performed on the ISS.


The two global winners will get to choose either a trip to Tanegashima Island, Japan, to watch their experiment blast off in a rocket bound for the ISS, or once they’re 18, a one-of-a-kind astronaut training experience in Star City, Russia, the training center for Russian cosmonauts.

Space Lab is one component of YouTube's broader educational offering, including, home to a wealth of high-quality educational videos from educators of all subjects and levels;, a resource providing teachers with guidance on how to effectively incorporate video into their classrooms; and YouTube for Schools, a new pilot program aimed at making YouTube accessible in more schools.

"We’re at a very interesting time in the history of space evolution, obviously with the final Shuttle launch, but also with the dawn of a new era of spacecraft and space industry. It’s a tremendously exciting time to be part of space and to be thinking about space," Bharmal said. "The world is always going to need more scientists, more engineers, more creative people to be the future of space exploration and science, and programs like this that will help inspire the future astronauts."

Students can submit a two-minute video starting now through December 7. The video can be as simple as an explanation on a blackboard or the demonstration of a mock-up in the classroom. Every video must explain the following:

  • Experiment Question: The scientific question the entrant wants to test.
  • Hypothesis: An educated guess at answering the experiment question.
  • Method:  A simple explanation of the methods used to conduct the experiment testing the hypothesis in microgravity.
  • Results: The expected results of the experiment.

Students can submit up to three experiments in one of two scientific disciplines - either biological or physical sciences. The top 60 finalists will be announced on January 3, at which time judging and public voting will begin. Global winners (two individuals/teams chosen from the regional winners, one in each age category) will be announced in March 2012.

The announcement of SpaceLab comes at the same time as YouTube's relaunch of, and its YouTube for Schools pilot program, which gives schools a chance to allow the education-only site to be accessed through its domain.