Student experiments blast off
Jon from Cuberider shares some of the most creative student experiments that are about to leave Earth and make the journey into outer space.
One of the paramount goals of Cuberider’s Create for Space program is to challenge students. To provide them with a platform and an opportunity, and then see what they create.
When we started discussing experiment ideas with our first schools, we learned that student creativity is addictive. The ideas coming from these teenagers were so investigative and original.
On our end, one of the things that was intimidating with this first space mission is that we did not know what to expect. Would the students understand the task? Would they be able to process the high level physics at play when in orbit? These questions now seem silly. Once we saw the experiment ideas students were proposing, they did more than just ease our minds… They blew us away.
By essentially hacking the SAGAN’s onboard camera, students were able to utilise the camera’s sensors to detect information besides visible light. This group of students are attempting to search for radiation aboard the International Space Station (ISS). How many of these high energy particles might be threatening to astronauts? How much is known and expected from NASA? Does the radiation differ depending on the location of the ISS to the sun? All questions that this experiment hopes to answer.
The Space Symphony
Students are using a variety of sensors to collect data. Each sensor is being prescribed a tone (temperature: woodwinds; altitude: strings; UV light: percussion) and as the readings change, pitch changes. This data is then processed through some digital recording equipment and shared with other students. These students have crafted a cosmic symphony by collecting data from the random noises that make up space.
A New Habitat
With living conditions on Earth changing due to poachers, climate change, and deforestation, some students have attempted to see if the ISS is a viable habitat for endangered animals. Students have researched living experiments for a variety of species, from fruit flies to geckos to bengal tigers. Using what they can find on the web, students then must create an experiment to see if temperature, humidity, and barometric pressure aboard the ISS would qualify this species to be sent to space.
BedTime for Astronauts
The ISS orbits the earth once every 90 or so minutes. That means that every hour and a half, there is a sunrise and sunset aboard the station. How does this effect astronaut’s circadian rhythm? Have they implemented a system that attempts to recreate a regular workday followed by a regular 8 hour sleep time? By measuring temperature and light, students are going to attempt to determine the existence of a day night cycle aboard the ISS.
The Mural project
Data Analysis is an important part of the Cuberider process. Once a scientist or engineer receive a set of numbers and measurements from the their experiment, how will they process those numbers? What results can be concluded? Well, some students are presenting their findings in a different way– through art. They have dedicated a wall in their school to transform into a Cuberider Mission 2016 mural. They will process the data from their experiment, and use statistics alongside images from the camera to paint a mural that can inspire future learners that may be interested in space.
Temperature of Numbers
Students programmed an experiment that runs a prime number generator aboard the ISS. As the computer works harder and harder to generate larger numbers, the students will record temperature readings to see if the computer’s environment heats up with the increased workload. Other environmental readings are then utilised to see if there are any other effects this number generator has on the zero gravity environment.
An eclipse caused by Earth
Students are investigating environmental changes aboard the ISS caused by the Earth. By considering the Earth as an outside element, students are able to develop experiments that can only be done from space with the Cuberider program. This forces them to utilise a new perspective and a powerful observation point, one in which the Earth is nothing more than a variable influencing the environment.
These are only some of the ideas students have submitted. When we set out to take students to space, there was an excitement about the process, the adventure, and the challenges that awaited Cuberider. Perhaps the most amazing result has been discovering what students are capable of with a little bit of inspiration and freedom to create.