Which means of transportation are there in space? How is a satellite controlled? To which environmental conditions are satellites exposed in space? How does the signal transmission between satellite and earth work? How can you navigate with the help of satellites? Why are there different colours in a rainbow? How are 3D images created? Answers to these exciting questions can be found through interesting experiments in the labs of the DLR_School_Lab Neustrelitz.
Satellite remote sensing is one of the exciting topics students in Neustrelitz can learn about. Credit: EADS, Astrium.
DLR_School_Lab Neustrelitz was opened in September 2011 at DLR in Neustrelitz in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. Here is where the data from various satellites are received by means of large antennas, and subsequently processed. The student lab is available for visits of one or several days by school classes from this most northerly German state and further afield.
In line with the tradition of DLR_School_Labs already established at other DLR locations, also in Neustrelitz students can conduct appropriate experiments which reflect the range of DLR activities there. These include, for example, experiments relating to satellite orbits and data reception, light scattering, and electromagnetic waves. An important project at DLR Neustrelitz which has many links to daily life is satellite navigation, which is also part of the DLR_School_Lab program. And experiments on microgravity are being prepared.
Antennas at DLR in Neustrelitz. Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)
The didactic concept behind student labs is to awaken the interest also of young students in natural and engineering science topics, to deepen the interest of older students, and also to motivate them to consider studying in these fields or choosing them as a career. The students become acquainted with the methodologies used in research and technology development and learn that scientists don't only "think" about things but in some cases even have to "look decades ahead", in order to devise approaches for the issues which will have social relevance in the near and more distant future.
These goals are also shared by the DLR_Project_Lab at the so-called TechnoLogikum in Neustrelitz, which already now makes it possible for students in the region to work on actual science projects – adapted to their age level and designed to be stimulating. In half-year and one-year courses, the students visit the DLR_Project_Lab, for example once a week. This offer, which is available without charge to elementary as well as secondary schools, involves such activities as experimenting with light and infrared radiation, investigating solar cells, and learning the basics of flight.
Students at the DLR_Project_Lab in Neustrelitz. Credit: DLR
The projects which are offered emphasize independent, creative work. The students experiment either individually or in small groups, help assemble experimental setups, carry out measurements, and then draw conclusions from their results. In many cases, everyday materials are also used to construct simple science equipment (for example, a pinhole camera, a periscope or a sundial). Thus, many of the experiments can also be repeated at home with parents and friends, and carried further. The students also test the results of their own research and development work in competitions. For example, they determine which model airplane flies the longest, or which rocket model flies the farthest.