Category Archives: Contests and Games

The Breakthrough Junior Challenge offers $250,000 prize for a student with a great science or math idea

The Breakthrough Junior Challenge is

an annual global competition for students to inspire creative thinking about science. Students ages 13 to 18 from countries across the globe are invited to create and submit original videos (3 minutes in length maximum) that bring to life a concept or theory in the life sciences, physics or mathematics. The submissions are judged on the student’s ability to communicate complex scientific ideas in engaging, illuminating, and imaginative ways. The Challenge is organized by the Breakthrough Prize Foundation.

If your video is selected as the winner, you will receive a $250,000 college scholarship, $50,000 prize for your teacher, and $100,000 for your school’s laboratory facilities. In addition, a get a free trip for you and a parent or guardian to receive your award at the live televised Breakthrough Prize Ceremony in November of 2018 (date to be announced).

Here is a video about the competition:

The competition began on April 1, 2018 and will end on July 1, 2018 at 11:59 pm PDT. This video describes the registration process:

Check the Breakthrough Junior Challenge website and FAQ for further details.

$100k in prizes for student rocket contest sponsored by Mars Society & FAR

The Friends of Amateur Rocketry (FAR) and the Mars Society are sponsoring a contest for liquid-fueled bi-propellant powered rockets built by college student teams:

FAR/Mars Society Launch Contest
Student Rocketry Teams Compete for FAR-MARS Prize

MOJAVE, CA – Student-built rockets will streak into the stratosphere in Spring, 2018 as college and university engineering teams from around the world compete for $100,000 in prizes in a contest sponsored jointly by the Mars Society, headquartered in Denver, CO and the California-based Friends of Amateur Rocketry (FAR), officers announced today.

The FAR-MARS Prize will grant $50,000 to the team whose bi-propellant liquid-fueled rocket comes closest to reaching 45,000 feet (13,716 meters). A second $50,000 prize will go to the team that comes closest to hitting that same altitude with a rocket-powered by liquid-methane and liquid-oxygen, announced Robert Zubrin, president of the Mars Society, and Mark Holthaus, director and treasurer of FAR.

“If one team can achieve both goals with the same rocket, they’ll win both prizes totaling $100,000,” Holthaus said.

The contest launch window will commence Saturday, May 5, 2018, the 57th anniversary of the launch of Alan Shepard, America’s first man in space, and continue through Sunday, May 13, according to Holthaus and Zubrin. The goal of being the closest to 45,000 feet, rather than simply reaching the highest altitude, was chosen so teams would have to demonstrate the precise control required to create reusable launch vehicles, Holthaus said.

“We see this as a logical follow-on to the Orteig Prize of the 1920’s that sparked aviation, and the X Prize of the 2000’s that jump-started commercial spaceflight,” said Zubrin, founder of the Mars Society and author of the book The Case For Mars, which proposed the Mars Direct manned missions that radically changed ideas about the feasibility of interplanetary space travel in the 1990’s. “We’re looking to get college and university students fired up about rocketry, which is the key to space travel and making humanity a multi-planetary species.”

Funds for the prize have been provided by an anonymous donor whose goal is to advance Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education in general and human spaceflight specifically, Holthaus and Zubrin said.

The $50,000 for each part of the prize will be presented to the college or university sponsoring the winning team, to be used for scholarships for students in the STEM fields related to rocketry.

Teams will have about 15 months to design, build, and test their rockets before gathering at the FAR rocket launch complex called FAR Site, located North of Edwards Air Force Base, on May 5, 2018.

 “Each competing rocket must loft a 2.2 pound (one-kilogram) payload, containing an altitude tracking device, to the target altitude,” Holthaus said. “The payload will be supplied by FAR, rockets must be recovered by parachute, and these rockets are required to clear 30,000 feet (9,144 meters) as a minimum to qualify.”

The competition will continue over two weekends (May 5-6 and 12-13) if needed, Holthaus noted.

FAR Site is equipped with static engine test stands and rocket launch rails so competing teams can try out their engines and rockets and tweak their performance pre-competition, Holthaus added.

Competing teams must be composed of college or university students, with at least one faculty adviser providing guidance, Holthaus said. Teams from the United States and all other nations are encouraged to enter and compete; two or more institutions can combine students, faculty, and resources for a single entry.

“We see the ability to design, build, and test bi-propellant liquid-fueled rockets as a key career skill in the coming decades, with a host of new, innovative rocket companies such as SpaceX, Blue Origin and Orbital ATK taking spaceflight in entirely new directions,” Zubrin said. “Using methane as a fuel is a critical component for missions to the planet Mars, as it is easy to create liquid-methane out of the resources already available on that world.”

Details on how to enter the contest and the exact rules for the competition will be posted on the Mars Society and FAR websites.

The Mars Society is the world’s largest and most influential space advocacy organization dedicated to the human exploration and settlement of the planet Mars. Established by Dr. Robert Zubrin and others in 1998, the group works to educate the public, the media and government on the benefits of exploring Mars and creating a permanent human presence on the Red Planet.

Friends of Amateur Rocketry, formed in 2003 by amateur rocketry enthusiasts, whose mission is to educate the public in STEM fields through the use of amateur rocketry; and to foster rocket technology by supporting individuals, hobbyists, student groups, businesses, and other like-minded non-profit entities. Both The Mars Society and Friends of Amateur Rocketry are 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations.

Author: David S. Michaels

Guardians of the Galaxy Space Station Challenge to select student experiments for ISS

A contest opens for students to win an opportunity to send an experiment to the International Space Station:

CASIS and Marvel Entertainment Unveil
Guardians of the Galaxy Space Station Challenge

— Challenge Allows Students Ages 13-18 to Submit
Flight Concepts for Microgravity Research —
–Two Student Projects Will be Selected and Launched
to the International Space Station —

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL. (January 10, 2018) – The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) and Marvel Entertainment today announced the Guardians of the Galaxy Space Station Challenge is open for American students ages 13-18 to submit microgravity flight experiment concepts that could be conducted on the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory. The contest focuses on Rocket and Groot, characters from the Guardians of the Galaxy comic book franchise, and students are encouraged to develop flight proposals based on the attributes of these Super Heroes. The contest will run through January 31, 2018. After the contest concludes, two student-submitted flight concepts will see their vision turned into reality and become an official ISS National Lab investigation, launching to the space station in 2018.

In 2016, CASIS and Marvel partnered to develop a mission patch featuring Rocket and Groot that represented all ISS National Lab investigations from the calendar year. Now the two entities seek to engage and excite American students by providing a truly unique opportunity to send experiments to the space station inspired by Rocket and Groot in far-reaching scientific areas.

The contest is divided into two separate research opportunities: TeamRocket, and Team Groot. Students with an interest in materials sciences, engineering and enabling technology development are encouraged to submit flight concepts through Team Rocket – Who has strong ties to innovation and engineering. Students interested in fundamental biological and regenerative science concepts are encouraged to submit flight proposals under Team Groot – Who is the embodiment of genetics and plant biology.

The student(s) who submit flight concepts through the challenge will be asked to explain their flight experiment proposal, and ultimately how microgravity has the potential to enhance findings that otherwise can be explored on Earth-based laboratory settings. Additionally, students will be asked to consider the size of their proposal experiment. Winning concepts will be housed in a NanoRacks NanoLab (in partnership with education partner DreamUp) and Space Tango’s TangoLab, which are both project facilities that are currently flying aboard the ISS National Lab and provide investigators the ability to access microgravity for a wide variety of research.

“The ability to partner with a brand as recognizable as Marvel to bring awareness, opportunity and excitement to our nation’s students is a great way to bridge the comic book community with the space community to advance Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education,” said CASIS Director of Operations and Educational Opportunities Kenneth Shields. “Both Rocket and Groot have characteristics that are researched onboard the ISS daily, and to allow students to propose experiments based on their favorite Super Heroes will be an exciting way to engage our Nation’s youth about STEM principles and the space station.”

To learn more about this challenge, including previous experiments conducted on the ISS, and how to submit a proposal, please visit: www.spacestationexplorers/marvel

About CASIS: The Center for Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) is the non-profit organization selected to manage the ISS National Laboratory with a focus on enabling a new era of space research to improve life on Earth. In this innovative role, CASIS promotes and brokers a diverse range of research in life sciences, physical sciences, remote sensing, technology development, and education.

Since 2011, the ISS National Lab portfolio has included hundreds of novel research projects spanning multiple scientific disciplines, all with the intention of benefitting life on Earth. Working together with NASA, CASIS aims to advance the nation’s leadership in commercial space, pursue groundbreaking science not possible on Earth, and leverage the space station to inspire the next generation.

About the ISS National Laboratory: In 2005, Congress designated the U.S. portion of the International Space Station as the nation’s newest national laboratory to maximize its use for improving life on Earth, promoting collaboration among diverse users, and advancing STEM education. This unique laboratory environment is available for use by other U.S. government agencies and by academic and private institutions, providing access to the permanent microgravity setting, vantage point in low Earth orbit, and varied environments of space.

About Marvel Entertainment: Marvel, a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, is one of the world’s most prominent character-based entertainment companies, built on a proven library of more than 8,000 characters featured in a variety of media over seventy-five years.  Marvel utilizes its character franchises in entertainment, licensing and publishing. For more information visit © 2018 MARVEL

Student CubeSat Structures Competition – National Space Society and EXOS Aerospace

The National Space Society‘s Enterprise in Space, a “NewSpace education” initiative, and EXOS Aerospace are sponsoring the student CubeSat Structures Competition –

Experiments that fly in space need a structure to hold them. These structures can be of many shapes and sizes depending on the type of rocket that will take them to space. To mark the first steps of the collaboration between the National Space Society’s Enterprise In Space (EIS) program and EXOS Aerospace Systems and Technologies, Corp. and the initiative to send hundreds of student experiments into space, we are offering this worldwide search to find the perfect CubeSat structure! 

Whether you create your CubeSat using 3-D printing, innovative technologies, or new types of materials, you will have fun meeting the challenge of creating a lightweight, strong and easy to duplicate CubeSat. If your design is chosen in the semifinalist design challenge, you will be given the opportunity to build the structure and send it to EXOS for evaluation.

Applicants must be students 18 years or older. The deadline for submissions is Feb. 1, 2018.

More at CubeSat Structures Competition Opens Space Design to Students of the World – National Space Society Blog.


Misc: An Artist Astronaut + Next phase of NASA’s 3-D Printed Habitat Challenge + An assembler of ingredients for life

Some miscellaneous items of interest:

** This Performance Artist Is Also a Candidate for Space Travel – Creators –  Sarah Jane Pell is a “Artist Astronaut” who believes that

 … the artistic and astronautics components of her work have equal weight. In other words, the art isn’t supplementary. “Calling art supplementary is like calling it decoration,” Pell tells Creators.

“The capacity of an artist is deeper, more complex and culturally significant: stemming from a philosophy of aesthetics and poetics from the sublime to the beautiful and grotesque and everything in between. It is an act, action and activism, a way of being in the world that translates curiosities, insights and provocations about our being in time. It can be invention, experimentation, improvisation, expression, and calculated methodical gesture and mark. Art may manifest in music, movement, the material arts and letters. Art knows no bounds, and therein lays the capacity for new discovery.”

** NASA Opens $2 Million Third Phase of 3D-Printed Habitat Competition | NASA – NASA invites participates to enter the 3-D Printed Habitat Challenge competition:

Future missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond will require innovative options to shelter our explorers, and we won’t be able to carry all of the materials with us from Earth. NASA’s 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge, a Centennial Challenges competition, seeks ways to create or develop the technologies needed to create such habitats on-site, and challenges citizen inventors to lead the way. Today, NASA and challenge partner Bradley University of Peoria, Illinois, announce the opening of Phase 3 of the competition for team registration.

“The ideas and technologies this competition has already produced are encouraging, and we are excited to see what this next phase will bring,” said Monsi Roman, program manager of NASA’s Centennial Challenges. “The solutions we seek from our competitions are revolutionary, which by nature makes them extremely difficult. But this only fuels our teams to work harder to innovate and solve.”

The Ice House

The goal of the 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge is to foster the development of new technologies necessary to additively manufacture a habitat using local indigenous materials with, or without, recyclable materials. The vision is that autonomous machines will someday be deployed to the Moon, Mars or beyond to construct shelters for human habitation. On Earth, these same capabilities could be used to produce affordable housing wherever it is needed or where access to conventional building materials and skills are limited.

Bradley University President Gary Roberts said the school is honored to be the challenge partner once again. “Bradley prides itself on experiential learning and student engagement,” Roberts said. “This challenge isn’t something our students can learn about in a textbook or in a classroom. This is a forward-thinking concept coming to life, and they have a chance to see it firsthand. They will meet the people making it happen and learn about the ideas that are fueling innovation. This could change the way they imagine the future and push their creative limits.”

The 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge is divided into phases. The Phase 1: Design Competition called on participants to develop state-of-the-art architectural concepts and was completed in 2015. The Phase 2: Structural Member Competition focused on manufacturing structural components and was completed in August 2017.

The now-open Phase 3: On-Site Habitat Competition challenges competitors to fabricate sub-scale habitats using indigenous materials with or without mission-generated recyclables, and offers a $2 million total prize purse. Phase 3 has five levels of competition. Interested teams may register through Feb. 15, 2018. Full details, schedule and rules can be found here.

** Scientists find potential ‘missing link’ in chemistry that led to life on earth | EurekAlert! – An interesting finding that could illuminate a key step in bringing together the ingredients that led to the formation of life on earth:

Origins-of-life researchers have hypothesized that a chemical reaction called phosphorylation may have been crucial for the assembly of three key ingredients in early life forms: short strands of nucleotides to store genetic information, short chains of amino acids (peptides) to do the main work of cells, and lipids to form encapsulating structures such as cell walls. Yet, no one has ever found a phosphorylating agent that was plausibly present on early Earth and could have produced these three classes of molecules side-by-side under the same realistic conditions.

TSRI chemists have now identified just such a compound: diamidophosphate (DAP).