Here Are Your 2012 YouTube Space Lab Contest Winners

Six teens between the ages of 14 and 18 from the U.S., Spain, Egypt, India, and New Zealand were just rewarded for their stellar science projects with a Zero-G flight above Washington, D.C., courtesy of Space Adventures.

They're the regional winners of the YouTube Space Lab contest, a global science fair and contest put together and sponsored by NASA, YouTube, Lenovo, Space Adventures, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, and the European Space Agency. 

Come September, two finalists from this group will have their school science projects flown up to the International Space Station and exhibited on live stream by astronaut Suni Williams. 

Those two finalists (well, three really) are Amr Mohamed from Egypt, and the duo Dorothy Chen and Sara Ma from the U.S.

Chen and Ma (both 16) want to watch if weightlessness makes bacteria grow and feed differently. They hope to see if the space bugs can help treat diseases on earth. Mohamed, who is 18, wants to see how the jumping zebra spider, who bounds onto its prey, misses a step when gravity is gone. 

Their fellow finalists had an impressive range of space-bound ideas: 

  • Patrick Zeng and Derek Chan from New Zealand hoped to see if heat transfers between hot and cold fluids would occur differently in a gravity-free environment. The results of their experiment could lead to more efficient heating and cooling systems here on Earth.
  • Spanish middle schoolers Laura Calvo and María Vilas wanted to test how weightless liquids behave--their surface behavior in low gravity have valuable insights into the construction of microelectronics.
  • Emerald Bresnahan, from the U.S., was curious to see how snowflakes would form in space.
  • Indian mechanical engineer in training Sachin Kukke is studying magnetic liquids called ferro fluids, towards understanding if they can absorb heat from the engines of spaceships, pushing them further into space. 

They beat out thousands of participants from across the globe for this high-stakes contest to get close to the stars. They will will be given the choice of one of two rewards: to travel to Japan and see their experiment blast off on a space rocket, or, when they turn 18, they will have the chance to enroll in a special astronauts training course in Star City, Russia.

The YouTube Space Lab was announced last October, calling high school students between 14 and 18 to post two-minute YouTube videos describing the science fair experiment they wanted to run in space. 

Thousands of students sent in videos from 80 countries around the world. (Indian teenagers sent in the most--making up 40% of the submissions Space Lab received. Teens from the U.S. were the second most prolific, sending in 15% of the entries.) 

Viewers and judges voted for their favorite videos and experiment, all showcased on the Space Lab YouTube channel. 150,000 viewers and an all-star panel of judges voted in six regional finals. 

[Image: Flickr user NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center]

Nidhi Subbaraman writes about technology and spaaaace. Follow on Twitter, Google+.

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