spacelab

YouTube Space Lab broadcasts teens' science experiments live from space

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YouTube’s Space Lab competition, launched in October 2011, challenged teenage YouTubers to design experiments to be performed on the International Space Station. The winners, chosen in March, earned the opportunity to see their experiments actually carried out in space.

The event finally happened Thursday, broadcast on a YouTube Space Lab livestream from the International Space Station. Famed science personality Bill Nye and the contest winners themselves joined the broadcast from the Google Creator Space in London, talking with ISS astronaut Sunita Williams.

Viewers also sent questions for Williams using #spacelab on Twitter.

Nye, a big advocate of space exploration, believes finding out how humans can live in space is vital.

“These are wonderful questions that space exploration allows you to seek the answers to some important questions,” Nye told the Washington Post. “Space exploration brings out the best in us, in humans. It challenges us. It’s peaceful. It raises the expectations of everyone in the world of what’s possible, and it’s inherently optimistic.”

The two winning entries were chosen by a judge panel that included acclaimed scientist Stephen Hawking. Amr Mohamed of Alexandria, Egypt wanted to see how zero-gravity would affect jumping spiders in space and Dorothy Chen and Sara Ma of Troy, Mich. wanted to test how space affected a terrestrial virus.

“I’ve always been fascinated with science because with a handful of equations I can explain the world around me,” Mohamed said.

As part of winning the contest, Chen and Ma were able to watch their experiment launch from Japan, and Mohamed was able to participate in cosmonaut training in Star City, Russia. The three winners joined Nye on the livestream to see their experiments performed from space.

Reporting from the Space Station, astronaut Williams said that both experiments turned out as the young scientists predicted.

Space Lab’s ultimate goal, however, is to continue inspiring the next generation.

"Our hope is that this livestream from space will be the world's largest, coolest scientific classroom,” Space Lab founder Zahaan Bharmal said. “Today's Space Lab winners--as well as the millions of other young minds watching the stream on YouTube--represent tomorrow's space explorers. They may one day walk on Mars!"

Photo via YouTube Space Lab/YouTube