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Satellite Company Lets Students Launch Experiments Into Space

As a way to take STEM to the next frontier, the education arm of a small satellite company is letting students across the world perform a variety of experiments in space.

Using special kits based on the open-source Arduino standard--which provides a common and accessible way for building and programming hardware for experiments--students actually create their own data-collection device to be launched into space. Ardusat, part of the satellite company Spire, will then let students conduct the experiments with their hardware on so-called cubesats--small satellites used for collecting data, like temperature and radiation levels.

Students, for example, might design experiments that track storms, study atmosphere and temperature, and examine solar flares. The program also includes free curriculum to schools, as well as a way to track experiment data online in real time.

"My students and I couldn't be more eager to take part in Ardusat's release during this school year," said Rachelle Romanoff, chair of the science department at Bakersfield Christian High School in a statement. "As a teacher, I'm always looking for ways to make learning an immersive experience for my students, and this is the most dramatic example I can think of for STEM education."

Ardusat is also partnering with the Association of Space Explorers on a challenge for high school students to propose their own experiment using a real satellite on orbit (registration opens September 2).  Afterward, ASE will pick the top 15 ideas and possibly perform them.

About the Author

Stephen Noonoo is an education technology journalist based in Los Angeles. He is on Twitter @stephenoonoo.