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YouTube, Lenovo to send student experiments into space

YouTube and Lenovo, in cooperation with Space Adventures and space agencies including the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), today announced YouTube Space Lab, a worldwide initiative that challenges 14-18 year-old students to design a science experiment that can be performed in space. The two winning experiments will be conducted aboard the International Space Station (ISS) and live streamed on YouTube.

YouTube claims that Space Lab is part of its larger commitment to highlighting and providing access to the wealth of educational content available on YouTube as well as Lenovo’s focus on equipping students with 21st century skills via information technology.

A prestigious panel of scientists, astronauts, and educators, including renowned professor Stephen Hawking, NASA’s Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations William Gerstenmaier, NASA’s Associate Administrator of Education and former Astronaut Leland Melvin, ESA Astronaut Frank De Winne, JAXA Astronaut Akihiko Hoshide and Cirque du Soleil’s founder Guy Laliberté, will judge the entries with input from the YouTube community. Students in two age categories, 14-16 years old and 17-18 years old, either alone or in groups of up to three, may submit a YouTube video describing their experiment to YouTube.com/SpaceLab.

Six regional finalists will gather in Washington, D.C., in March 2012 to experience a ZERO-G flight and receive other prizes. From the regional finalists, two global winners, one from each age group, will be announced and later have their experiments performed 250 miles above Earth and live streamed on YouTube. Additionally, the global winners will get to choose a unique space experience as a prize: either a trip to Tanegashima Island, Japan, to watch their experiment blast off in a rocket bound for the ISS, or once they are 18 years old, a one-of-a-kind astronaut training experience in Star City, Russia, the training center for Russian cosmonauts.

“As a company committed to the next generation of scientists, YouTube launched Space Lab to allow ordinary students the extraordinary opportunity of having their experiment carried out in space,” said Zahaan Bharmal, Google’s Head of Marketing Operations, Europe, Middle East, and Africa and the man behind the idea for Space Lab.

“The Space Lab channel will serve as a home base on YouTube for creating, sharing, and discovering the best space and science-related videos in the world. Our goal is to encourage students to explore the world of science, earthbound and beyond, by first accessing YouTube, and ultimately space,” he added.

As the leading PC supplier to students of all ages, Lenovo enhances learning inside and outside the classroom via PC and tablet technology solutions as well as by spearheading progressive education research led by Lenovo’s research arm, the Education Research Initiative (ERI). Current ERI projects include the Student Global Leadership Initiative, in which students from five countries collaborate virtually using Lenovo tablets to help solve the earth’s energy issues; equipping teachers with the skills to use technology innovatively at the Bastow Institute, which claims to be the world’s premier training facility for primary and secondary school teachers; and collaboration with ETS, the world’s leading provider of educational testing, on combating students’ summertime “brain drain” by using ThinkPad laptops to measure whether frequent, low-stakes testing improves knowledge retention for students over their summer break.

YouTube has released a promotional video for the initiative:

“We’ve worked with educators around the world for more than 20 years to empower teaching and learning with innovative technology products that connect classrooms digitally with the global knowledge economy,” said Mike Schmedlen, Director of Worldwide Education at Lenovo. “Space Lab complements our commitment to education by giving teachers everywhere an unprecedented opportunity to spark students’ creativity and learning, and together help unlock some of the mysteries of the universe.”

Entrants may submit up to three experiments in one of two scientific disciplines — either biological or physical sciences. The top 60 finalists will be announced on 3 January 2012, at which time judging and public voting will begin. Global winners (two individuals/teams chosen from the regional winners, one in each age category) will be announced in the US in March 2012.

In addition to the trip to the U.S., the two global winners/teams will have their experiment live streamed from space, take a ZERO-G flight, receive a Lenovo IdeaPad laptop and have the choice of one of two trips: a trip to Tokyo, Japan, to tour the JAXA facilities and watch the rocket containing their experiment take off in 2012, or, once they are 18 years old, they can choose to embark on a one-of-a-kind astronaut training experience in Star City, Russia, the training facility for Russian cosmonauts. The training will include many of the same training classes and simulations that turn regular people into real astronauts as well as a VIP tour of Moscow, and personalised souvenirs including a spaceflight suit, and more.

The remaining four regional winners will also receive a trip to the U.S., a ZERO-G flight, and a Lenovo IdeaPad laptop.

Space Lab is one component of YouTube’s broader educational offering, including YouTube.com/EDU, home to a wealth of high-quality educational videos from educators of all subjects and levels; YouTube.com/Teachers, a resource providing teachers with guidance on how to effectively incorporate video into their classrooms; and YouTube for Schools, a new pilot programme aimed at making YouTube accessible in more schools.

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