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Mission Astronautica

Questacon Mission Astronautica Virtual Excursion digital presenter Alison McGregor video conference with NASA astronauts and Karabah High School. Source: SMH. Photo: Elesa Kurtz.

India Jermyn, Canberra students reach for greater heights with Mission Astronautica, The Sydney Morning Herald, 17 September 2015

How do you stop an object from floating in water without sinking it?

For students from three ACT high schools, this was the problem they were presented with as part of Questacon‘s Mission Astronautica program.

For the final leg of the program, the students learned about neutral buoyancy and its applications at in space with the assistance of NASA astronaut Clay Anderson.

Their designs for neutrally buoyant objects – objects which neither rise nor sink in water – were presented to Mr Anderson, who appeared from the United States via Skype and conducted a teleconference with the students on Thursday.

Alison McGregor, an inspiration mentor with Questacon Smart Skills, said the program was designed to prompt students to think innovatively over a number of weeks to complete a challenge.

“It’s not a competitive challenge, it’s a collaborative challenge and we work with them to try and achieve it,” she said.

“This challenge was to get the students to build a neutrally buoyant object.

“[Neutral buoyancy is] the closest thing we can simulate to zero gravity on earth. So it actually has real world applications in a really big way.”

Mission Astronautica was delivered through Questacon’s state-of-the-art digital broadcast studio and run as part of Questacon’s Virtual Excursion videoconference program which is offered to schools across Australia.

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