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YouTube Launches Online Science Fair Into Space

A new contest, orchestrated by Google, asks students to come up with an experiment that will be performed in space

By Sara Beladi
|  Thursday, Oct 13, 2011  |  Updated 4:48 PM EDT
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YouTube Launches Online Science Fair Into Space

Getty Images

The International Space Station as seen from NASA space shuttle Endeavour on May 29, 2011.

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Haven't you heard? Terrestrial science labs are so last century.

YouTube and Lenovo, the computer manufacturer, are bringing teen experiments to space with a science contest called SpaceLab, which was announced Monday.

Students ages 14 to 18 around the world can submit their experiments on biology and physics to the contest, which will be judged by an all-star panel of astronauts, scientists and educators, including scientist Stephen Hawking and Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté.

Two global winners -- one from the 14-16 age group and one from the 17-18 age group -- will have their experiments conducted and live streamed from the International Space Station in 2012.

The lucky pair will also be offered a choice between a trip to Tanegashima Island, Japan, to watch their experiment blast off, or a trip to StarCity in Russia for a week of cosmonaut training, although they will have to wait until they're 18 to cash in this part of the prize, should they select the latter.

Space Lab is part of the organizers' joint effort to get teens interested in science, technology and, of course, space. Director of European marketing for Google (YouTube's parent company) Zahaan Bharmal came up with the concept when Google invited employees to suggest a marketing campaign, according to the New York Times.

“When I was a teenager, 15 or 16, space was the thing that really inspired me,” Bharmal said in an NYT interview. “The headline idea was, ‘Let’s create the world’s largest, coolest classroom in space.' "

Interested students -- individuals or groups of up to three -- should come up with an idea for a science experiment that can be conducted in space and upload a two-minute video explaining it to YouTube by Dec. 7, 2011. The experiment must follow the scientific method (yes, there's a reason your science teacher was a pain about it!). Check out SpaceLab's official rules for all the deets.

The people at YouTube also hope to inspire educators with the SpaceLab project. Teachers can find advice on how to incorporate video with their lessons at YouTube.com/Teachers.

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