BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss., April 5, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- NASA has announced three winners in the Spaced Out Sports competition, which challenged U.S. students in fifth through eighth grades to create games for astronauts to play aboard the International Space Station. The challenge is part of a broader agency education effort to engage students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) activities.
Students at K.W. Barrett Elementary School in Arlington, Va., got the top prize for creating a game entitled "Save the World." Second-place honors went to students at Kinser Elementary School, a Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) School in Okinawa, Japan, for their "Alligator Clip Capture" game. Third-place was awarded to students at Manhattan Beach Middle School in Manhattan Beach, Calif., for their "Independence Day" game.
"Save the World" features teams gathering objects and building devices to save Earth from incoming meteorites. In "Alligator Clip Capture," players race around the station's Destiny Lab retrieving alligator clips of varying point values. "Independence Day" challenges players to throw batons through 'Liberty Rings' to gain points. All three games will be played aboard the station.
"I was delighted to see this level of engagement from the student teams, and I want to congratulate all three winning teams on their hard work and creativity," said NASA Associate Administrator for Education Leland Melvin. "I am especially pleased to note that one of the winning teams is from a DoDEA school. April is the Month of the Military Child, and NASA is kicking off a new initiative to engage military families in our education programs."
NASA will kick off its Military Families Initiative at an education summit in Orlando later this month.
The Spaced Out Sports challenge, a Teaching from Space project, was unveiled last fall and focused on helping students learn and apply Sir Isaac Newton's Laws of Motion. Using the accompanying curriculum, teachers led students through a study of Newton's laws, highlighted by hands-on activities and video podcasts featuring NASA scientists and engineers explaining how the laws are used in the space program.
The videos also feature celebrity athletes explaining the science behind their sports. Contributors include Olympic gymnast Nastia Liukin; NASCAR driver Juan Pablo Montoya; Women's National Basketball Association player Temeka Johnson; National Hockey League player Ryan O'Reilly and members of the National Football League's New Orleans Saints. Astronauts Melvin and Nicole Stott also are featured.
Students learned the differences in a game played in the gravity environment of Earth and the same game played in a microgravity environment, such as the space station. They used the knowledge to design or redesign a game to illustrate and apply Newton's laws.
"Response to the challenge was very encouraging, with more than 55 submissions," said Katie Wallace, director of NASA's Stennis Space Center's Office of Education in Bay St. Louis, Miss., where the challenge and accompanying curriculum were developed. "Even more encouraging was seeing students excited about, and involved in, learning science. Hopefully, they will continue in these studies and consider STEM careers."
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