Teenagers around the world on Monday were invited to design experiments that will be conducted on the International Space Station and streamed for all to see on YouTube.
The Google-owned video-sharing website and Chinese computer titan Lenovo worked with US, European, and Japanese agencies to launch YouTube Space Lab as a way to ignite passions for learning science.
"Google was founded by scientists, so inspiring the next generation of scientists is very important to us," said Zahaan Bharmal, the California Internet firm's head of marketing for Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.
It was Bharmal's idea to have students think of cool experiments to try in the micro-gravity environment on the Space Station and then arrange for the most promising concepts to be tested there.
"We are taking the two best experiments, packing them on a rocket and sending them to the International Space Station," Bharmal told AFP.
"We are hoping that the live stream on YouTube will be the world's largest, coolest classroom," he continued.
The panel judging entries includes renowned physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking. Experiments should fall into the broad categories of physics or biology.
The YouTube Space Lab competition is open to students from 14 to 18 years of age.
Winning experiments will be sent some time next year to the space station on a Japanese rocket, conducted using Lenovo computers, and streamed live on YouTube with held from NASA, according to Bharmal.
Students whose ideas are selected will get to chose between being at the rocket launch or a visit to the cosmonaut training facility in Russia.
The window for pitching ideas closes on December 7, and winners will be announced in Washington, D.C., in March.
The six regional winners will be treated to zero-gravity flights jokingly referred to as the "vomit comet" for the outcome it is prone to evoke, according to Bharmal.
"It makes me wish I was still a teenager," said Bharmal, who embraced science in his school days and even studied physics at the University of Oxford in Britain.
The Space Lab channel at YouTube could become a permanent online venue for science related content.
Information about the contest was available online at youtube.com/user/spacelab .
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