Boston, MA – The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC), and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) announced today the launch of a new grant competition to allow middle schools to compete for resources to send a life sciences research experiment to the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory. The competition is modeled on the CASIS National Design Challenge, a research competition that facilitates authentic student research and experiment design with selected experiments being sent to the ISS. The new competition will run parallel to the previously announced Galactic Grant Competition, which allows life sciences companies in Massachusetts to compete for up to $500,000 to fly commercial experiments to the ISS. The winners of both competitions will be announced at the annual ISS Research and Development Conference in Boston on July 7, 2015 at the Boston Marriott Copley Place.
“The future of Massachusetts lies in the hands of students in classrooms across the Commonwealth,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center’s partnership with CASIS will provide students with a forward-thinking, interactive learning experience that will better prepare them for higher education and the growing STEM workforce.”
The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center will utilize the STEM platform provided by CASIS to facilitate the Space Station STEM Challenge for middle school students. Teams will compete to design, build, and send their own original research experiments to the ISS in the spring of 2016. The student research will spend approximately 30 days on the ISS. Afterwards, the data from the experiments will be retrieved for the student teams to analyze and compare to their ground-based experiments. The application process for the competition will be open May 8 – June 5, 2015. Projects will be selected by June 22, 2015.
“The International Space Station is the quintessential vehicle to energize students towards active involvement in STEM learning and to enhance their understanding of scientific research,” said Ken Shields, CASIS Director of Operations and Educational Initiatives. “Through this competition, and our partnership with MLSC, we are facilitating authentic learning experiences with the space station.”
Through the competition, CASIS will select one flight-based project from a Massachusetts middle school, along with one runner up, which will be awarded a ground-based project. The winning team will receive a flight-based NanoLab, and a grant in the amount of $6,000 to purchase materials to support the experiments. CASIS and its industry partners will provide technical workshops and support in designing and implementing the experiment as well as transporting it to and from the ISS.
“A major priority for the Life Sciences Center is to invest in the training of Massachusetts’ next generation of life sciences talent,” said Susan Windham-Bannister, Ph.D., President & CEO of the MLSC. “The majority of research currently underway on the International Space Station is life-sciences focused, so through this collaboration with CASIS, we are providing middle school students with a unique educational opportunity. The Center’s grants will create excitement about science, enable students to explore the possibilities of research in space, and learn how the knowledge gathered from their experiments can make a difference here on Earth.”
Schools eligible to apply for the grant include public middle schools serving low-income populations and public middle schools located in one of the Commonwealth’s 26 “Gateway Cities”.
For more information on the Space Station STEM Challenge, visit:
About CASIS: The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) was selected by NASA in July 2011 to maximize use of the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory through 2020. CASIS is dedicated to supporting and accelerating innovations and new discoveries that will enhance the health and wellbeing of people and our planet. For more information, visit www.iss-casis.org.
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 the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center: The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC) is an investment agency that supports life sciences innovation, research, development, and commercialization. The MLSC is charged with implementing a 10-year, $1-billion, state-funded investment initiative. These investments create jobs and support advances that improve health and wellbeing. The MLSC offers the nation’s most comprehensive set of incentives and collaborative programs targeted to the life sciences ecosystem. These programs propel the growth that has made Massachusetts the global leader in life sciences. The MLSC creates new models for collaboration and partners with organizations, both public and private, around the world to promote innovation in the life sciences. For more information, go to www.masslifesciences.com.