A critical goal for the National Science Foundation is to “develop a robust research community that can conduct rigorous research and evaluation that will support excellence in STEM education and that integrates research and education”. The International Space Station (ISS) is a perfect laboratory for such integration on a variety of potential DRK-12, AISL, ITEST, Cyberlearning projects and other solicitations.
NASA, through its non-profit partner CASIS, supports large-scale use of the ISS for education, and encourages applicants to NSF to include ISS resources and the ability to launch or operate student experiments on ISS. CASIS welcomes inquiries about these capabilities and can provide advice and operational support, if warranted.
Space Research on the ISS National Laboratory is open for everyone — including students.
The ISS National Laboratory is a remarkable platform for research, development, and education. Orbiting Earth every 92 minutes, it supports experiments in micro-gravity, exposure to extreme temperatures and radiation, Earth remote-sensing equipment, robotics, human adaptation, a unique closed system in isolation from its environment and so much more. Built by an international partnership at a cost of $150 Billion, it has had continuous human occupation for 18 years, with astronauts supporting its operations and experiments.
Education has emerged as one of most important and diverse applications of the ISS. Over the past several years, elementary, middle, high school and college students have designed, built, launched and operated hundreds of experiments in biology, physical sciences, Earth science, robotics, telecommunications and technology development. The simplest can be operated at no cost, by downloading data from the ISS, using existing on-orbit assets. Others involve a small experiment box, with standard design protocols, launched for operation on the ISS or deployed as a satellite. At more advanced levels, students collaborate with scientists in on-going ISS-based research. All herald a new era of educational use of space, in which students move from simply learning about ISS, to actually conducting their own experiments.
Recent examples include: operating an on-orbit camera for Earth observation, programming a mini-robot on ISS to maneuver in micro-gravity, conducting plant experiments using the same equipment on orbit and in the classroom, writing code and downloading data to control a thermodynamics experiment, and genetic research using on-orbit gene replication equipment. Through these experiments, students develop real-word skills in data literacy, engineering, health science, project design, and computing, while fueling their ability to create and innovate. This portfolio represents a growing community of researchers, educators, and students taking their scientific dreams beyond the limits of gravity.
CASIS is eager to further collaborate with research institutions, informal science centers, and schools and districts to bring the ISS National Laboratory’s cutting-edge research into real-world settings for K-20 students and inspire the next generation of explorers and innovators through initiatives focused on STEM. The ISS National Laboratory provides an unprecedented opportunity for teachers and students to do experiments in a microgravity lab and not just passively learn about them.
To learn more about partnering with CASIS on NSF proposals that integrate STEM education and authentic space-based research contact: Dan Barstow, Senior Education Manager, CASIS-ISS National Lab, DBarstow@iss-casis.org.