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International Space Station
Partner School Program

Program Overview

The Quest Institute for Quality Education developed the ISS Partner Program in partnership with Valley Christian School’s AMSE Institute. It is designed to help schools start a very unique space STEM program in their learning environment. This program has a duration of one school year and can be structured to be an after-school program or a classroom program, both of which have been successful in the past for ISS Partner Schools

The program begins with a one-week comprehensive summer training program for your teachers at the Quest Institute’s headquarters advanced STEM facilities of Valley Christian Schools’ Skyway Campus in San Jose, California. Typically, two teachers from your school attend the workshop. Sometimes schools leverage the expertise of industry professionals and science teachers to work with them as a team. A technology teacher at your school will also work as a successful team player with one of your science teachers. During the summer, students prepare for the ISS program by doing a self-paced learning kit that teaches them basic electronics and basic programming skills, totaling about 40 hours of work. By the time school begins in the fall, both the students and teachers are trained to start selecting, designing, building, and testing an experiment. A ground-based control unit is made and its results are compared with an identical unit sent to the ISS, working in microgravity.

The program is designed to work optimally for a group of 8-12 junior high or high school students. The students work with two teacher/mentors that guide the students from the beginning to the end of the project. They typically meet for about 4 hours per week from the start of the school year to approximately early March, when the experiment must be ready to ship to NASA after the Quest Institute checks all experiments for a “go status” to the ISS.

Each student and teacher in the program receives a custom embroidered shirt with their name and school name, as well as an embroidered ISS logo, in their school colors.

Since 2011, The Quest Institute ISS Partner Program has successfully trained over 700 students from more than 20 schools, both public and private, from the United States and abroad. Accolades have come from four US presidents, multiple senators, actor Tom Hanks, and four US NASA astronauts. Many of our ISS Partner School students and teachers have appeared on TV news broadcasts, and most partner schools continue in the program year-after-year. Students have presented their scientific results at the Cal Poly Space Conference, ASGSR, and at Lockheed Martin.

Typical TV Coverage of our ISS Program:

Teachers at the ISS partner workshop will learn:

  • How to collaborate with teachers from other schools in the same program
  • How to pick students to build a team and organize for success
  • How to get maximum media exposure for the school and students
  • How to help students choose a science experiment for the ISS
  • Basic electronics needed to design and build an experiment
  • Basic programming skills to program a science experiment that will be autonomous on the ISS for a full month of operation
  • The basic architecture of the ISS Experiment Platform
  • How to design, assemble, and solder a printed circuit board
  • How to test the ISS experiment on the ground
  • How to retrieve experimental data from experiments aboard the ISS
  • How to analyze experimental data
  • About comments from recent attendees to the ISS Summer Training Workshop

Short video of comments from recent attendees to the ISS Summer Training Workshop:

Students will learn: 

  • How to work as a team
  • How to meet a project schedule and budget
  • How to document work professionally in an engineering notebook
  • How to prepare for media visits
  • How to choose a science experiment for the ISS
  • Basic electronic skills needed to design and build an experiment
  • Basic programming skills to program a science experiment to be autonomous on the ISS for a full month of operation
  • The basic architecture of the ISS Experiment Platform
  • How to assemble and solder a printed circuit board
  • How to test their ISS experiment on the ground
  • How to retrieve experimental data from experiments aboard the ISS
  • How to analyze experimental data
  • How to design printed circuit boards

Benefits to your school:

  • New, advanced STEM opportunities for students
  • New, advanced STEM opportunities for staff
  • Increased enrollment
  • Increased cross-department participation in science projects
  • Marketing boost
  • Philanthropic boost
  • Increased networking with local industry leaders

Facilities, Equipment, & Software Needed:

  • Facilities: Basic science or technology lab with flat work areas and good lighting. Storage area for small experiment materials and tools
  • Equipment: Safety glasses, basic hand tools (screwdrivers, long-nose pliers, needle-nose pliers, wire cutters, wire strippers, etc.), digital multimeter, small soldering station, solder, microscope and/or magnifying glass.
  • Software: p-Basic (provided)

Typical Experiment Types that have already been flown by our Partner Schools (partial list):

  • Plant Growth
  • Ant Farm Behavior
  • Plant Inoculation
  • Bacterial Growth
  • Killing of Bacteria
  • Concrete Mixing
  • Growth of Fungi
  • Battery Discharge Rates
  • Ferro-Fluid Behavior with Magnetism
  • Rust Rates
  • Mold Growth Rates
  • Electroplating
  • Liquid Solar Cells
  • Many, many more…

Size of Experiments and Limitations:

  • Approximate size: 2”x2”x4”
  • Must not contain any hazardous materials and draw less than 80mA at 5V
  • Types of data that has been downloaded from the ISS:
    • o   Digital photos
    • o   Temperature
    • o   Humidity
    • o   Voltage
    • o   Current
    • o   Etc.
  • Experiment Duration on the ISS: 30 full days, 24/7

Types of data that can been downloaded from the ISS:

  • Digital photos
  • Temperature
  • Humidity
  • Voltage
  • Current
  • Etc.

Experiment Duration on the ISS

  • 30 full days, 24/7

Data Downloads:

  • Three times a week, sent to a secure Dropbox™ location

Return of Experiments to Earth:

  • Yes (optional)

More info…

  • Email Mr. Werner Vavken wvavken@vcs.net for more information on program cost, program application documents, and more questions.

Videos

  • Elementary School 1450 Leigh Avenue
  • San Jose, CA 95125 408.559.4400
  • Junior High 100 Skyway Drive, Ste. 130
  • San Jose, CA 95111 408.513.2460
  • High School 100 Skyway Drive, Ste. 110
  • San Jose, CA 95111 408.513.2400
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