"Take your classroom into space" free fall experiments run onboard the ISS
Education is a major focus during ESA's human spaceflight missions with astronauts using the unique environment of the International Space Station to inspire students of all ages to follow science-based subjects. The Lesson‐2 activity "Take your classroom into space" included a live link between secondary school students and ESA astronaut Frank De Winne during his OasISS mission. The demonstration was designed to give them an appreciation of the conditions of free fall through two simple, curriculum relevant experiments by using a stand‐alone kit. The "Take your classroom into space" call for education ideas, addressed to European educators, was launched in February 2008 by the Human Spaceflight Education Office. "Mass measurement" and "Capillarity" were the two winning ideas which astronaut Frank De Winne demonstrated from the Columbus module of the ISS. For the mass measurement demonstration, students had the opportunity to calculate the mass of an object on the ISS by measuring the time it takes to oscillate whilst hooked onto a spring. The experiment helped to illustrate the difference between the concepts of weight and mass. Students had the possibility to communicate with Frank De Winne during the second part of the live link, asking questions related to the demonstrations. For the capillarity demonstration, students observed the effects of weightlessness on capillarity and understood how gravity affects this phenomenon. As support to these two demonstrations an educational kit was created and distributed by HSF-CO to European teachers for direct demonstrations in the classrooms.