HOUSTON, June 14, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Nancy Conrad, founder and chairman of the Conrad Foundation, today announced the Foundation has joined forces with NanoRacks LLC, the leading company for low-earth orbit utilization, to launch a new program called DreamUp. The program will assist students in raising money to participate in a unique educational experience – conducting experiments in the microgravity of space. DreamUp is the first program to enable students to use American Express® Membership Rewards® points to fund student experiments onboard the International Space Station (ISS).
Junior high, high school and undergraduate college students from accredited U.S. schools who register for the DreamUp program will have access to NanoRacks' two standardized research platforms aboard the ISS (also known as NanoLabs) each of which supports 16 payloads, or experiments, housed in small containers. Each NanoLab is plugged into the ISS' power and communications system by a NASA astronaut, offering students a chance to test scientific theories in a zero gravity environment. Students also get the opportunity to interact with ISS astronauts regarding their experiments.
"Some experiments can't be done on Earth because we can't 'turn off' gravity,'" Conrad said. "DreamUp, powered by our partner NanoRacks, is the ultimate 'plug and play,' helping our next great innovators participate in a scientific research opportunity like no other."
Students can design two different size payloads, starting at $15,500 each. For every 1,000 American Express points redeemed, the DreamUp program will receive $10.00 for the team/school of the donator's choice.
"We are committed to lowering the barriers for entry to space research," stated Jeffrey Manber, managing director of NanoRacks. "This is a double win. This first-of-its kind student experiment donation platform will help create a world-class experience for students."
Several example experiments that would benefit from the DreamUp program include: testing plant growth in space; comparing insect lifespan in space versus Earth; testing food decomposition in space using leftovers from an astronaut's meal; measuring the time it takes to hatch an egg in space; or studying the behavior of fish in a sealed aquarium. However, students are encouraged to be innovative in their research projects and will not be restricted, beyond the size and weight requirements, in their experiments.
Donations can also be made to a scholarship fund, which will help deserving, under-served schools fund their own DreamUp payload. Unused funds from accounts will also be added to the scholarship fund.
"The opportunity for students to do small experiments on the ISS is a powerful motivator in science, technology, engineering and math," said Julie Robinson, NASA's chief scientist for the International Space Station. "DreamUp will provide the opportunity for top students of all socioeconomic levels to fly their experiments to the space station, and the NanoRacks system allows them to be completed without any impact to other research activities."
Schools interested in signing up for DreamUp should complete an easy online registration form to get started. Once registered, schools can join the Conrad Foundation's online community and connect with other students, teachers and advisors to get even more ideas for new innovative technologies and research.
Anyone interested in donating money or points to the DreamUp program should visit http://www.conradfoundation.org/dreamup/donations/.
About The Conrad Foundation
The Conrad Foundation is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to 21st century, immersive learning, where students use their imagination and innovation to enrich their classroom studies and do something real. The Foundation is the only organization of its kind whose programs combine science and technology-based education, innovation and entrepreneurship to inspire solutions for achieving global sustainability. For more information, visit www.conradfoundation.org.
The Conrad Foundation logo is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=13020
NanoRacks LLC was formed in 2009 to provide quality hardware and services for the U.S. National Laboratory onboard the International Space Station. The company developed and has two research platforms onboard the U.S. National Laboratory which can house plug and play payloads using the CubeSat form factor. The current signed customer pipeline of over 60 payloads including domestic and international educational institutions, research organizations and government organizations, has propelled NanoRacks into a leadership position in understanding the emerging commercial market for low-earth orbit utilization. Visit us at http://www.nanoracks.com and follow us at @nanoracks.
Conrad Foundation: http://www.conradfoundation.org/about-us/
DreamUp school registration: http://www.conradfoundation.org/dreamup/school-registration-2/
DreamUp online community: http://conradawards.org/signup
Donate to DreamUp: http://www.conradfoundation.org/dreamup/donations/
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