Ac­tiv­i­ties and hands-on ex­per­i­ments for young re­searchers

Next-gen­er­a­tion sci­en­tists

DLR wants to get young people interested in space and promote the natural sciences and technology through numerous campaigns related to Matthias Maurer's Cosmic Kiss mission on the International Space Station ISS. These range from hands-on experiments and special competitions in which school classes are asked to develop climate protection concepts to schools making radio contact with the ISS. Below, you will find a short description of these initiatives.

Hands-on activity – Hand in Hand around the World

More than 1000 schoolchildren aged between eight and 12 took part in the DLR hands-on campaign ‘Hand in Hand around the World' by painting themselves in 'class selfies'. All of the children had to draw themselves in such a way that they would end up holding hands in a long row. When attached, the 30 winning pictures form a human chain on a 10-metre-long fabric strip, which will be on board the ISS during the mission. However, all participants are winners in 'Hand in Hand around the World', as the remaining drawings have been saved digitally on a USB drive and will also orbit Earth with Matthias. Upon his return, the classes whose 'selfies' were part of the fabric will receive their picture and a certificate. This will accompany their artwork that went to space, providing a permanent source of inspiration in the classroom.

School competitions – ‘Earth Guardian’ and CalliopEO

Through its school competition 'Earth Guardian – Space for Change', the German Space Agency at DLR is back for the third time in its quest to find young 'climate and environmental heroes'. Schoolchildren aged 12 to 14 will develop sustainable ideas for protecting the climate and environment and, as young researchers, will see the world through different eyes. Matthias Maurer will be following the competition as an ambassador from space. During his mission, he will send video messages to the participants and provide important information about the different climate zones. CallipEO is another a call to schoolchildren up to the age of 13 to help address environmental issues. In this competition, they will program an ISS computer equipped with sensors so that they can perform their own environmental experiments.

Hands-on experiment – Touching Surfaces

When humans stay on a space station for a long time, they create their own microflora from introduced microorganisms. This 'space biotope' may have an impact on the health of the astronauts but can also cause damage to the station itself. New hygiene measures are required as a result. For this purpose, as part of the Touching Surfaces experiment, nanostructures will be applied to innovative surfaces made of copper and brass using a laser. These will then be examined to determine their antimicrobial effect. The scientific experiment also has an educational component. Several schools will receive identical material samples, which will be deliberately contaminated with fingerprints by students aged from 12 to 17. These samples will stay on Earth and form an important part of the experiment when they are compared with those from space. All of the samples will be evaluated together by the schoolchildren and the researchers at DLR – an example of 'citizen science'.

ARISS – Schoolchildren communicate by radio with Matthias Maurer on the ISS

As part of the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) project, the German Space Agency at DLR and the German Amateur Radio Club (Deutschen Amateur-Radio-Club e.V.; DARC) are bringing spaceflight to the classroom. Twelve schools and three DLR student laboratories – the DLR_School_Labs – will contact the astronaut by radio. The pupils will then have the opportunity to ask Matthias Maurer their questions. The same programme was carried out with a total of 15 schools and four school laboratories during the two missions flown by the German ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst.

Space Seeds II – Monitoring space flowers

In the Space Seeds II hands-on activity, primary school children will conduct research with wildflower seeds that have been on board the ISS for an extended period of time. At the end of the Cosmic Kiss mission, they will be brought back to Earth. What happened to the seeds during their journey into space? A school competition will take place during the 2022/23 school year, with primary school children in their third and fourth years allowed to take part. In addition to accompanying teaching materials, the classes will receive the 'space seeds', as well as some reference seeds for planting and monitoring. Children thus become researchers, while gaining an awareness of biodiversity and the need to protect our planet.

Dzhanibekov experiment – fascinating rotation under microgravity conditions

This experiment will examine an amazing effect first demonstrated in space by the cosmonaut Vladimir Dzhanibekov in 1985 – this time with figures created using Duplo bricks. It focuses on the strange rotational motion of a multi-axis object, in which apparently stable rotation suddenly alternates around one axis of rotation with rapid flips. The experiment is also used to fascinate young people with the often-surprising world of physics.


Martin Fleischmann

German Aerospace Center (DLR)
German Space Agency at DLR
Communications & Media Relations
Königswinterer Straße 522-524, 53227 Bonn
Tel: +49 228 447-120

Freya Scheffler-Kayser

German Aerospace Center (DLR)
German Space Agency at DLR
Human spaceflight, ISS and Exploration
Königswinterer Straße 522-524, 53227 Bonn

Volker Kratzenberg-Annies

German Aerospace Center (DLR)
Education, Outreach
Linder Höhe, 51147 Cologne