October 14, 2011 — If you could conduct an experiment in microgravity, what would it be and more importantly, what do you think would happen? Form a team and enter your idea, and you may just be able to find out if your hypothesis is correct.
NASA is offering student teams the opportunity to compete in two challenges: "Dropping In a Microgravity Environment," or DIME, and "What If No Gravity?" or WING. DIME is a team competition for students in grades 9-12, while WING for grades 5-8. Both project-oriented activities last throughout the school year.
Proposals for the competitions are due by November 1. A panel of NASA scientists and engineers will evaluate and select the top-ranked proposals by December 1. Then the winning teams will design and build the experiments that will be conducted in the 2.2-Second Drop Tower at NASA's Glenn Research Center.
The 79-foot tower gets its name because when an experiment is "dropped" into it, the package experiences weightlessness, or microgravity, for 2.2 seconds. Researchers from around the world use this tower to study the effects of microgravity on physical phenomena, such as combustion and fluid dynamics, and to develop new technology for future space missions.
The top four DIME teams will receive an expense-paid trip to Glenn in March 2012 to conduct their experiments, review the results with NASA personnel, and tour the center's facilities. Four additional DIME teams, and up to 30 WING teams, will be selected to build their experiments and ship them to Glenn for NASA testing. These experiments and the resulting data will be returned to the teams, so they can prepare reports about their findings.
For more information about the microgravity competitions, click here.
NASA’s “2.2-Second Drop Tower” is used to study the effects of microgravity and to develop new technology for future space missions. In this view from the 8th floor, technicians ready the drag shield assembly. Photo credit: NASA
In recent years, the Hanover Area School District in Pennsylvania tested five different ball sizes and weights and different strengths of rubber bands. Students learned where the balls go when dropped in microgravity. Credit: NASA