To All Student Researchers Now Engaged in SSEP Mission 16 to ISS – A Challenge for the Start of the Program: Understanding Weightlessness – You Want Me to Take a Bathroom Scale Where?


To all SSEP Mission 16 student microgravity researchers, just before his return to Earth on Soyuz 33S, on May 13, 2013, Expedition 35 International Space Station Commander and Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield – the first Canadian to walk in space –released this video. Watch Chris (and his guitar) and see what weightlessness looks like. When watching this movie you’re invited to go to full screen on your computer and turn up the volume – maybe even project it on a large screen in a classroom and turn off the lights.

 

To all SSEP Mission 16 to ISS Community Program Directors: this Challenge is covered as part of the program start Professional Development videoconference for your community’s Local Team of educators. These videoconferences are being conducted by SSEP National Program Director Dr. Jeff Goldstein.

This blog post is for teachers in the 24 communities across the U.S., Canada and Ukraine that just started SSEP Mission 16 to ISS on September 1, 2021. You are invited to use this Challenge with your students to get them thinking about the concept of microgravity (the technical name for the phenomenon of ‘weightlessness’). As part of this Challenge, students are asked to submit what they think is an answer in the ‘Leave a Reply’ section below. Please encourage your students to submit answers, so that all students visiting this blog post can see what other Mission 16 students across the U.S., Canada, and Ukraine are thinking. Let’s use this blog post as a social media platform for sharing thoughts about microgravity.

The solution to the Challenge will be posted to this SSEP National Blog on Monday, September 20, 2021. 

 

I’ve heard a lot about this weightlessness stuff, with astronauts having a great time floating around in space. I’ve even seen astronauts on YouTube videos and in movies (like Chris above), and they’re floating as if they weigh nothing at all. It just seems like maybe there is just no gravity in space? I really need to find out what’s going on up there!

Since they don’t have a spare seat on the next flight to low Earth orbit (at least not yet), I’m going to look far and wide to find an amazingly tall mountain whose peak rises to the Space Station’s altitude in orbit. My plan is to climb to the top of this mountain, look really fast in the big window on the Space Station (it’s called the cupola) as Station flies by my face, and see for myself if the astronauts are floating around.

The Space Station orbits the Earth close to 260 miles (420 km) above sea level, so that’s how high my mountain needs to be. By the way, crew and station are zipping along at 4.7 MILES PER SECOND (7.6 km/sec) relative to you sitting there at your computer. Bam. The Station just moved 4.7 miles. Really. So I’m going to look in that window really really fast!

OK, it took some Googling, but I found that really tall mountain! See my mountain in the picture? It accidentally got captured in an old Space Shuttle photo. Mt. Everest is only 5.5 miles (8.8 km) high. MY mountain (Jeff’s Peak) is 260 miles (420 km) high. I found it south of the Land of Make-Believe, down a not too well traveled path. Still, you’d think someone would have noticed it since it’s 47 times higher than Mt. Everest. (Have you ever heard of Jeff’s peak? No? See, nobody knows about it!)

So this week, I’m going to take the time to climb my mountain, and in my hand is my trusty bathroom scale, spring-loaded and guaranteed to be accurate at any altitude. I’ll camp out at the top, and I’ll wait until the Space Station flies by, so I can look in the window and see if those lucky astronauts are weightless and floating around.

Here now the challenge to YOU—
So here I am on the top of my mountain, and the Space Station just flew by – Hey! They WERE floating around, and appeared totally weightless, just like Chris in the video above! They seem to have no gravity at all! They’re not being pulled down to the floor – in fact there doesn’t seem to be a floor … or a ceiling!

On top of my mountain, at the exact same altitude above Earth as the astronauts (I’m at the exact same location in space as they are), I now step on my bathroom scale to see my weight. If I weigh say 150 lbs when I’m standing on my scale in my bathroom at home, what will I weigh on top of my mountain?

Hint: You don’t actually need to calculate anything. Your assignment—if you decide to accept it—is to just guess what you think I’ll weigh and why. Hmmmm, lots of possibilities.

Submit your guesses below in the ‘Leave a Reply’ section, and remember to include why you think your guess is correct. Students of ALL ages are welcome to post a guess.

I’ll even give you a few days to noodle on this in class, and maybe at home with your parents. I’ll post the answer Monday, September 20, 2021, right here at the SSEP National Blog. See you then, and good luck noodling!

Also – if you want to get an email notification when that Blog Post is up, and follow along with the latest news from the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP), you are invited to subscribe to the SSEP National Blog at the bottom of the right column.

[**Metric system note: in the metric system, weight is measured in Newtons (N). 150 lbs is equivalent to 667 Newtons, which is the weight of a 68 kg mass at Earth’s surface.]

The solution to this challenge will be posted here on September 20, 2021.

 


The Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) is a program of the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE) in the U.S., and the Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Space Education internationally. It is enabled through a strategic partnership with Nanoracks LLC, which is working with NASA under a Space Act Agreement as part of the utilization of the International Space Station as a National Laboratory. SSEP is the first pre-college STEM education program that is both a U.S. national initiative and implemented as an on-orbit commercial space venture.

The Smithsonian National Air and Space MuseumCenter for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), and Subaru of America, Inc., are U.S. National Partners on the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program. Magellan Aerospace is a Canadian National Partner on the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program.

139 Responses to To All Student Researchers Now Engaged in SSEP Mission 16 to ISS – A Challenge for the Start of the Program: Understanding Weightlessness – You Want Me to Take a Bathroom Scale Where?

  1. Anonymous September 9, 2021 at 9:25 pm #

    you will weight less because you are higher up

    • Anonymous September 10, 2021 at 11:29 am #

      your weight drops as you get higher up

  2. Anonymous September 9, 2021 at 9:27 pm #

    When you are on the ground you way more than if you are in space

  3. Richard September 9, 2021 at 9:28 pm #

    As you get higher into the air your weight drops.

  4. Anonymous September 9, 2021 at 9:41 pm #

    When you are on land you weigh a lot more than you do in space because as you get higher your weight seems to drop

  5. Anonymous September 9, 2021 at 9:52 pm #

    You will weigh less because you are higher then you normally are.

  6. Eric M. September 9, 2021 at 10:19 pm #

    I think that he would way less on the mountain because there would more of a microgravity environment then on the earth’s’ surface. So i think he would weight 120 lbs.

  7. Aidan September 9, 2021 at 11:30 pm #

    When You go higher in gravity your weight in space will start to change but when u land back down it will be back to normal.If you stay still u stay at your normal weight

  8. Anonymous September 9, 2021 at 11:53 pm #

    You weigh more in space or high on than on the ground

  9. Anonymous:) September 10, 2021 at 7:16 am #

    I think that he will get lighter in weight.

  10. Anonymous September 10, 2021 at 7:30 am #

    The deeper you go into space you start to weigh less than as you would on earth

  11. chris September 10, 2021 at 7:46 am #

    you will way more on earth than you would in space

  12. Anonymous September 10, 2021 at 8:10 am #

    You are heavier on the ground than you are in space.

  13. Anonymous September 10, 2021 at 9:06 am #

    you will way more on earth than in space because of gravity

  14. Anonymous September 10, 2021 at 10:42 am #

    Because the gravity is holding you to the mountain, you still weigh the same.

  15. karlie September 10, 2021 at 11:30 am #

    you will weigh less because as you get higher up your weight seems to drop

  16. Anonymous September 10, 2021 at 12:16 pm #

    less cause the higher u get the less u weigh

  17. no one knows September 10, 2021 at 12:17 pm #

    there is less gravity in space so you will weigh less

  18. Anonymous September 10, 2021 at 12:19 pm #

    Your weight would be the same as when on Earth and not your weight in space because Earth’s gravity is still pulling you.

  19. anonymous2 September 10, 2021 at 12:26 pm #

    in space you have no gravity pulling on you, but on earth you have gravity pulling on you

  20. Anonymous September 10, 2021 at 12:31 pm #

    You will way less in the ISS because they’re moving in space while your on the ground at the same height as the ISS so you will have weight on the ground and when your in the ISS you will be weightless because there moving and not you

  21. person September 10, 2021 at 1:17 pm #

    you will weigh less.

  22. Anonymous September 10, 2021 at 1:22 pm #

    you will weigh less on your mountain. If it is 250 miles high your most likely in space. because of gravity you´ĺl weigh less then on the ground

  23. tyler September 10, 2021 at 1:22 pm #

    Your weight will not change but, it will feel as if it had changed because of the air and the gravity.

  24. Eleanor September 10, 2021 at 1:24 pm #

    you will weigh less on your mountain. If it is 260 miles high your most likely in space. because of gravity you´ĺl weigh less then on the ground

  25. not a person September 10, 2021 at 1:30 pm #

    You will probably weigh around 115 pounds, because you will lose weight as you get closer and closer to space, the gravity would be reduced, making you weigh less. Since the atmosphere ends at a nice even 100km, and the mountain is 320km, my guess is that you would weigh 35lbs less.

  26. Anonymous September 10, 2021 at 1:59 pm #

    You would way more on Earth than in space because there is no gravity

  27. Anonymous September 10, 2021 at 2:04 pm #

    you will wiegh less becase you are closer to the atmostphere unlike when your on the ground.

  28. Anonymous September 10, 2021 at 2:06 pm #

    I think that because it says that when we are in space, we are weightless so think l that we would weigh nothing.

  29. Woof :) (naomi) September 10, 2021 at 2:12 pm #

    I think that you will weigh less. Like, 10 pounds? Also how can you survive in space? (I know that this is made up)

  30. Candice September 10, 2021 at 5:09 pm #

    I think you will get vastly lighter.

  31. yes September 10, 2021 at 5:27 pm #

    You will weigh 135 pounds

  32. Anonymous September 12, 2021 at 8:03 pm #

    You would weigh lighter in space than on earth.

  33. Anonymous September 13, 2021 at 11:09 am #

    I think the weight will be less. It will be 125 lbs.

  34. Lummi Nation School September 13, 2021 at 11:20 am #

    5th Grade – 24 Students:
    14/24 Same weight
    14 – He is on earth so why would his weight change?
    3/24 Don’t know –
    5/24 Less weight
    2 – He would weigh less because he is up high where the air is thinner
    3 – He is farther from the ground
    2/24 More weight
    1 – He would weigh more because he is carrying a back pack
    1 – He probably weighed himself at home with no clothes on

    6th Grade – 28 Students:
    18/28 Same weight
    18 – He is on earth so weight won’t change
    8 – Don’t know
    2 – Less weight because he is further from the Earth’s center

  35. Chihuahuagamer33 September 13, 2021 at 12:45 pm #

    I think weightlessness only affects us in space, not while we’re on a mountain, only in space

  36. luna September 17, 2021 at 9:34 am #

    well it simple we are weightess in space

  37. Aniya Monroe September 20, 2021 at 2:21 am #

    I think it will be less.

Leave a Reply

The Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) is a program of the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE) in the U.S., and the Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Space Education internationally. It is enabled through a strategic partnership with DreamUp PBC and NanoRacks LLC, which are working with NASA under a Space Act Agreement as part of the utilization of the International Space Station as a National Laboratory. SSEP is the first pre-college STEM education program that is both a U.S. national initiative and implemented as an on-orbit commercial space venture.