Three school student teams in the fifth through eighth grades have been selected as the winners of NASAâ€™s second annual Spaced Out Sports challenge.
The students designed science-based games that will be played by astronauts aboard the International Space Station.
The games illustrate and apply Newtonâ€™s laws of motion by showing the differences between Earthâ€™s gravity and the microgravity environment of the space station. The challenge is part of a broader agency education effort to engage students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics activities.
To design their game, students use up to five items from a two-page list of objects aboard the ISS. The list includes such items as socks, exercise putty, bungees, cotton swabs, tape, rubber bands, zipper-top bags, chocolate-covered candies and drink bags.
Students at Pierremont Elementary MOSAICS Academy in Manchester, Mo., earned the top prize with their game â€œStarfield.â€ In this activity, astronauts will travel through a course to gather â€œpower starsâ€ and throw them through a â€œblack hole target.â€
Second-place honors went to students at East Brook Middle School in Paramus, N.J., for their â€œOutstanding Obstaclesâ€ game. It calls on astronauts to race through obstacles including â€œhair band shootingâ€ and â€œring toss.â€
The third-place winners are students at Tyngsborough Middle School in Tyngsborough, Mass., for their â€œLearning Takes You Around the Worldâ€ game, in which astronauts will propel through rings, collecting slips of paper.
â€œCongratulations to the 2012 Spaced Out Sports winners,â€ said Leland Melvin, associate administrator for education at NASA Headquarters in Washington and two-time shuttle astronaut. â€œBy combining solid STEM skills with imagination and teamwork, these students have demonstrated that they have what it takes to be our next generation of engineers and designers.â€
The Spaced Out Sports challenge is a NASA Teaching from Space activity and was first offered in 2010. Using an accompanying curriculum, teachers lead students through a study of Newtonâ€™s laws, highlighted by hands-on activities and video podcasts featuring NASA scientists and engineers explaining how the laws are used in the space program.
â€œThe three top games were selected but everyone really is a winner in this challenge,â€ said Katie Wallace, director of NASAâ€™s Stennis Space Center Office of Education near Bay St. Louis, Miss., where the challenge and accompanying curriculum were developed. â€œEvery student involved wins by learning more about science and establishing an educational foundation that will serve them well throughout their careers and life.â€