The partners who sponsored the YouTube Space Lab Contest have announced the winners. At its start in September 2011, YouTube, NASA, ESA and other partners such as Lenovo asked students aged between 14 and 18 years to devise an experiment to be carried out in the International Space Station.
Two experiments were chosen from over one thousand finalists to be carried out on the International Space Station and broadcast through a live streaming on the Internet.
In the category between 14 and 16 years, the duo formed by Dorothy Chen and Sara Ma from Detroit, Michigan, USA, won. The two girls were inspired by studies showing that bacteria grown in space may be more infectious than those on Earth. Their experiment consists in sending on the International Space Station bacteria of the species Bacillus subtilis, which have fungicidal effects, to see if in microgravity this effect is amplified.
In the category between 17 and 18 years Amr Mohamed, from Alexandria in Egypt, is the winner. His experiment consists in observing the behavior of zebra spiders in microgravity. This species of spider has the particularity to jump on their prey so the point of the experiment is to see if the spiders will adapt to jump in conditions so different from those where they have always lived in.
These winners can choose to go to Japan to watch the launch of the rocket that will carry their experiments to the International Space Station or, once they come of age, go to Moscow to attend a training course for astronauts.
Experiments winners were chosen from the regional winners. In the 14-16 years category they are:
Laura María Calvo & Vilas, from Spain for the region consisting of Europe, Middle East and Africa. Their proposal consisted in observing the interaction among different fluids in microgravity conditions to find out if it can be the key to the production of electronic devices smaller but more efficient.
Patrick Zeng & Derek Chan from New Zealand for the region formed by Asia and the Pacific nations. Their proposal consisted in the study of heat transfer in the air in microgravity conditions to improve heating and cooling systems in space but also on Earth.
In the 17-18 years category, the regional winners are:
Emerald Bresnahan, from the U.S.A. for the Americas. Her proposal was to observe how snowflakes are formed in the absence of gravity in order to understand if galaxies are formed in a similar way to them.
Sachin Kukke, from India to the region formed by Asia and the Pacific nations. His proposal consisted in the study of heat transfer in liquids known as magnetic ferrofluids to improve the cooling of engines in the absence of air.
The regional winners have been in Washington, DC, to experience a parabolic flight of the type where you can experience zero gravity. They were also invited to visit European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany, on May 16 to talk about their experiments with ESA astronauts. ESA astronaut André Kuipers will speak with them from the International Space Station.
In recent years concern has grown for the declining interest of young people towards scientific and technical subjects. The YouTube Space Lab contest has shown that if they are stimulated in the right way young people can show great intelligence and inventiveness.