Press Release

Partnership Enables Chicagoland Boy Scouts and Explorers to Send Research Projects to International Space Station

By SpaceRef Editor
March 26, 2015
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 (Chicago, IL) March 26, 2015 Chicagoland Boy Scouts and Explorers will soon design and build research projects for a chance to have their experiment flown to the International Space Station.

This incredible opportunity is the result of a newly formed partnership between the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), which manages the U.S. National Laboratory on the International Space Station (ISS); and local Boy Scouts of America (BSA) and Exploring programs.

CASIS and the BSA Pathways to Adventure Council will launch the Space Station National Design Challenge student research competition in Chicago this spring in an effort to spark interest and innovation in young men and women in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). 

While the partnership is new, the BSA has a historic connection to the space program. In fact, 11 of the 12 astronauts who walked on the moon were Scouts. Additionally, former astronaut and CASIS President and Executive Director Gregory H. Johnson is a proud Eagle Scout.

“The Boy Scouts of America has created leaders for more than 100 years and our youth must now take the lead in STEM,” said Nancy Elder, Director for Strategic and Corporate Alliances for Pathway to Adventure Council. “Scouting has long embraced STEM by providing young people with real-world hands-on learning experiences ranging from cleaning habitats in national parks to programming robots. The partnership with CASIS will engage our youth and volunteers in a unique and cutting-edge experience by adding their research projects to the final frontier: space.”

The U.S. National Lab’s microgravity environment offers researchers the exclusive opportunity to conduct experiments in a setting free from the effects of gravity present on Earth. Since systems act differently in this microgravity environment, researchers are able to gather valuable insight that can help advance their work on Earth. 

Space Station National Design Challenge participants will work in teams of 10-20 young men and women to conceptualize and execute their experiments, which must fit into miniature labs about half the size of a shoebox. Along with aspiring engineers and scientists, teams will include members with interests in graphic arts, drafting, moviemaking, programming and many other fields. CASIS and its industry partners will facilitate technical workshops and provide support to each team. 

CASIS will then select three winning experiments to be flown to the International Space Station in the summer of 2016. 

“Inspiring the next generation of explorers is at the heart of the CASIS mission,” said CASIS Director of Operations and Education Ken Shields. “This partnership exemplifies a concerted effort by both organizations to engage and energize students about STEM through an authentic learning experience that leverages the International Space Station.”

To learn more about the contest, including upcoming information sessions and how to submit a proposal, please visit:

SpaceRef staff editor.