BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss., April 10, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Three school student teams in the fifth through eighth grades have been selected as the winners of NASA's second annual Spaced Out Sports challenge. The students designed science-based games that will be played by astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS).
The games illustrate and apply Newton's laws of motion by showing the differences between Earth's gravity and the microgravity environment of the space station. The challenge is part of a broader agency education effort to engage students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) activities.
To design their game, students use up to five items from a two-page list of objects aboard the ISS. The list includes such items as socks, exercise putty, bungees, cotton swabs, tape, rubber bands, zipper-top bags, chocolate-covered candies and drink bags.
Students at Pierremont Elementary MOSAICS Academy in Manchester, Mo., earned the top prize with their game "Starfield." In this activity, astronauts will travel through a course to gather "power stars" and throw them through a "black hole target."
Second-place honors went to students at East Brook Middle School in Paramus, N.J., for their "Outstanding Obstacles" game. It calls on astronauts to race through obstacles including "hair band shooting" and "ring toss."
The third-place winners are students at Tyngsborough Middle School in Tyngsborough, Mass., for their "Learning Takes You Around the World" game, in which astronauts will propel through rings, collecting slips of paper.
"Congratulations to the 2012 Spaced Out Sports winners," said Leland Melvin, associate administrator for education at NASA Headquarters in Washington and two-time shuttle astronaut. "By combining solid STEM skills with imagination and teamwork, these students have demonstrated that they have what it takes to be our next generation of engineers and designers."
The Spaced Out Sports challenge is a NASA Teaching from Space activity and was first offered in 2010. Using an accompanying curriculum, teachers lead 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 three top games were selected but everyone really is a winner in this challenge," said Katie Wallace, director of NASA's Stennis Space Center Office of Education near Bay St. Louis, Miss., where the challenge and accompanying curriculum were developed. "Every student involved wins by learning more about science and establishing an educational foundation that will serve them well throughout their careers and life."