Create and run science experiments onboard the International Space Station through this unique STEM program!
Quest for Space is an ISS partnership led by the Quest Institute for Quality Education. Since 2010, it has launched over 100 student-designed experiments investigating topics such as plant health, bacterial growth, ant behavior, radiation effects, and even metal plating. Quest for Space combines the disciplines of software programming, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, project management, and teamwork — in ways that are fun and accessible to students as young as elementary school!
The essential hardware for Quest for Space is the Ground Unit, a mini-laboratory for the classroom. It is nearly identical to the Quest Institute’s Flight Unit onboard the ISS. The Ground and Flight Units are automated multipurpose platforms that can be programmed to carry out a wide range of tasks and measurements.
Elementary through high school students create software using drag-and-drop graphical tools in the LEGO Mindstorms development environment. After testing their software on the Ground Units in their classrooms they can upload their finished code to the Flight Unit, which executes the programs and returns the resulting data.
To participate in Quest for Space, a school or other learning institution purchases one or more Ground Units for $1500 each. The purchase includes access to technical support, educational resources, and ISS data. At no extra cost, students can design experiments for their Ground Units to compare with past ISS experiments. For an additional cost, students can send their code to space! They will get near-real-time data from the ISS as the Flight Unit carries out their programs.
In the most advanced type of project, students can design and build custom hardware with the help of technical mentors. Due to the expense of making custom hardware flight-ready and launching it to the ISS, these advanced projects cost about $20,000. Schools and other organizations can seek support through grants and sponsorships from both the public (government) and private (companies and philanthropic foundations) sectors. Teachers participating in CASIS’s Space Station Ambassadors program will receive updates when grant opportunities are announced.