DUBAI // Schoolchildren have been urged to enter an international online competition to have their science experiments conducted in outer space and experience zero gravity.
The YouTube Space Lab initiative, which began yesterday, invites youngsters aged 14 to 18 to devise a science experiment that can be performed by astronauts aboard the International Space Station.
It will be streamed live to millions across the globe if they win.
Entries must take the form of a two-minute video that includes a scientific question, a hypothesis and a simple explanation of methods for testing it in microgravity.
They can participate alone or in groups for a chance to see their experiments performed live in space and also to take a Zero-G flight to experience weightlessness.
Zahaan Bharmal, the head of the YouTube Space Lab in London, said the contest gave "ordinary children an extraordinary opportunity". "Our goal is to encourage students to explore the world of science - earthbound and beyond - by first accessing YouTube and ultimately space."
Students can submit up to three biology or physical science experiments that will be carried out more than 400 kilometres above Earth.
The deadline is December 7, after which a team of scientists, astronauts and educators - including the Saudi prince, Sultan bin Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud, the first Arab to travel to space, and physicist Stephen Hawking - will judge which entries are shortlisted.
Judges will select the top 60 then the public will vote. Six regional finalists will be invited to Washington in next March, when two global winners will be named.
The competition was launched in association with the technology company Lenovo and space agencies including Nasa, European Space Agency and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. It is expected to be the biggest science lesson when it is streamed live.
Dean Thompson, a science teacher at the Jumeirah Baccalaureate School in Dubai, said: "This will be a really good opportunity for pupils to stretch their minds."
* Visit youtube.com/spacelab for further details