As part of the Skylab program, in which the first United States experimental space station will be launched and operated, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has offered to students of the United States the opportunity to participate as scientific investigators. This part of the Skylab program is called the Skylab student project and was conceived to stimulate interest in science and technology by directly involving students in a major research program. The student project is under the joint sponsorship of the NASA, an agency of the United States Government, and the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), a non-Government professional organization of science teachers.
The NSTA conducted the national competition. Over 4000 students, ranging in age from 11 to 19 yr, submitted proposals from which 301 regional winners and, then 25 national winners were selected. These selections were based solely on their scientific and technical merit and were chosen because of the creative ability displayed by the student. The NASA evaluated each of the 25 winning proposals to determine which experiments could actually be performed with minimum impact to the Skylab program. As a result of this evaluation, 19 of the 25 are planned to be accomplished in flight.
The 19 student experiments that will be performed fall into three categories. First, for two experiments, we can provide data that will be gathered for other Skylab experiments. Second, there are six proposals for which we can satisfy the data requirements by modifying the way we plan to use existing Skylab equipment. For experiments in these two categories, the student will be associated with a Skylab principal investigator who will assist the student in developing his experiment and obtaining and evaluating the data he will require. Third, the remaining eleven experiments require new equipment.
Ways to provide broad classroom participation are being planned. Included will be the provision to teachers of information packages describing the experiments and suggesting ways to conduct associated experiments in the classroom.
The response to the Skylab student project has been enthusiastic and it is foreseen that we will achieve our objective of stimulating interest in science and technology, both among students and among teachers.
KeywordsNational Science Teacher Association Regional Winner Zero Gravity Technical Merit Major Research Program
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