Join us for an incredible scientific mission of exploration in space! Did you ever want to know the differences between growing crystals on Earth and in space, or the types of microbes that might live on the International Space Station (ISS) compared to your own home or classroom? This program is your chance – come on board Xtronaut Space Station!
For this program, we have brought together an amazing team: Xtronaut Enterprises, creator of hit STEM board games and educational programs, NanoRacks, a leader in science and logistics on the ISS, and DreamUp, a leading company bringing space-based research and projects to students.
Be part of scientific discovery on the ISS with our two experiment kits, targeted to ages 7 (with adult supervision) and up! Do one or both! We have more kits planned for next year.
Crystals: Xtronaut Space Station – Explore the differences between growing crystals on Earth and in space.
Microbes: Xtronaut Space Station – Learn about microbes that might live on the ISS compared to what might be living in your own home or classroom.
Crystal Growth in Space
The Crystal Growth in Space kit is designed to teach you about the similarities and differences of crystal growth in microgravity on the ISS and in Earth’s gravity at your home or school.
In this experiment, you observe rock candy crystal growth with your own eyes. You will observe the crystal’s exterior structure and you will see how it grows from day to day.
When you observe your experiment, you can take photos to compare the growth from one day to the next. Do the crystals look different in space? Grow larger? Use your own eyes to observe, or use a Levenhuk microscope available through this campaign, to see even more!
Don’t forget about our special Crystal Mission Patch, embroidered on cloth, ready for your clothes or backpack!
The kit provides you with everything you need, with materials as close as possible to the materials and ingredients used in space by the astronauts, including:
- Special access to our ISS Web Interactive Portal and Resource Center
- Coupons for $1 off either Domino or C&H sugar at your local store, which should cover the cost of one pound container of sugar (same brand sugar launching to the ISS)
- Wooden dowels and spacers
- Stand-up plastic bags as will be used on the ISS
- Full-color exploration guidebook, and experiment instructions – which takes participants through the science of crystals and goes into depth about the experiment.
One of the distinctive features of this experiment is that we designed the research to be similar to what the astronauts are doing on the ISS. On the ISS, you cannot have an open cup with a sugar/water mixture – it would just float up in microgravity – not a good thing! So the experiment takes place in a closed bag, with a particular apparatus for injecting the liquids into the bag. Our kits also use a bag, with a similar crystal collection tool inside – a dowel and spacer approach (which keeps the dowel away from the edges of the bag).
Students will learn about crystal habit (the crystal’s exterior form), crystal growth, chemical bonds, the science of sugar, the scientific method, and the effect of microgravity on crystals.
Microbes in Space
The Microbes in Space kit lets student explorers learn about the different types of life growing around the ISS and compare it to small life in their environments. While astronauts are living in space, there are also other kinds of life on the ISS! However, most of this life is too small for the astronauts to see unless they help it grow.
In this activity, you will perform an experiment to grow small life on Earth and compare it with the experiment conducted by astronauts on the ISS.
The astronauts on the International Space Station will swab a computer keyboard, an ISS tablet, and the ISS’s food preparation area. You can swab similar things in your classroom or home, or find something else that you think will have a lot of microbes.
Cover your petri dishes, seal them with the provided tape, and insert them into plastic bags to seal out the rest of the world. Then leave them at room temperature where they won’t be disturbed, and watch your microbes grow over the course of a week. Use a Levenhuk microscope to see even more!
Our exclusive web portal will show you images of the results on the ISS. You can compare the types of microbes you find yourself to what the astronauts found on the ISS – examine the types and sizes of the microbes, and how quickly they grow.
Don’t forget about our special Microbe Mission Patch, embroidered on cloth, ready for your clothes or backpack – only for Kickstarter backers!
The kit provides you with everything you need, with materials as close as possible to the materials and ingredients used in space by the astronauts, including:
- Exclusive access to our ISS Web Interactive Portal and Resource Center
- Three Petri dishes with agar (these have a shelve life of a few months, so we recommend doing this experiment within 60 days of receipt of the kit)
- Three collection swabs
- Three pairs of gloves
- Three zip-top bags
- Sealing tape
- Full-color exploration guidebook, and experiment instructions – which takes participants through the science of microbial growth and goes into depth about the experiment
Join us with this grand experiment and learn about space research, microbial growth, the scientific method, the impact of microgravity on the growth of microbes, and the variance in microbial growth.
Through the expertise of NanoRacks and DreamUp, Xtronaut Space Station arranged to launch both experiments to the ISS – one launched aboard an Orbital ATK rocket on November 11, 2017 (OA-8), and the other will launch on a Falcon 9 rocket (CRS 13), scheduled for December 4, 2017. The experiments are packaged and ready!
Once on the ISS, our experiments will be conducted by astronauts in microgravity, recording the results for Xtronaut Space Station users to see. Students can undertake near-identical experiments in their homes or schools and utilize a web portal that connects them to the photos of the experiments conducted on the ISS, so they can compare their results on Earth to the results on the ISS.
Xtronaut Space Station Kits provide explorers with a direct connection to the space program, specifically the microgravity environment of the ISS where astronauts live and work, allowing learners to participate directly in science in space for a very affordable cost.
Our Rock Candy Crystals experiment is all about using sugar to create these terrific crystals on the ISS and through the kits on Earth. While putting all the pieces together, we discovered our vision of a low-cost space experiment for kids everywhere was not so straightforward, nor inexpensive. We were so pleased and honored to have two of America’s iconic sugar brands, Domino® Sugar and C&H® Sugar, come forward with generous support for this project and Kickstarter.
Domino Foods, Inc., marketers of Domino® and C&H® Sugar, was very excited from our first conversation with them about supporting this student education and science initiative. Not only are they providing generous financial support through the Kickstarter and directly to our group as we develop these kits, they have contributed coupons to include in all student kits. This provides everyone who purchases the kits with the free sugar they need for these experiments. We are also launching the Domino® and C&H® brands to the ISS so you will be using the same type of sugar with your kits as is being used by the astronauts. Thank you, Domino Foods, Inc.!
We also want to thank the Sugar Association – the scientific voice of the U.S. sugar industry – for its support of this Kickstarter and valuable scientific guidance.
Levenhuk is a major American manufacturer of optical devices and instruments such as microscopes, telescopes, binoculars, monoculars, spotting scopes, and accessories. Particular attention is given to producing optics for children, including attractive and user-friendly telescopes, microscopes, binoculars and science kits.
These are real working instruments that feature metal bodies and multi-coated glass optics. Microscopes in the series provide magnifications up to 1280x. Another feature that you will rarely find in introductory microscopes is a double illumination system, which doesn't limit your observations to transparent samples only, but also allows you to study opaque objects. The light sources in Rainbow microscopes are LED and halogen. These types of illumination are recognized as the best for use in microscopes.
Add a Levenhuk Microscope package to your pledge and discover a whole new world at the microscale!
All backers will receive a downloadable holiday gift card - to share the excitement of our experiments with friends and family.
Want to customize your order? Add the following amounts to your pledge for each of these items. These costs include shipping.
One extra space mission patch - $10
One extra experiment - $25
Constellations Game - $25
Xtronaut Game - $35
Levenhuk Microscope - $75
Xtronaut Space Station
“As a science educator, I’ve guided students through building and launching experiments to space, so I know kids are excited and inspired by all things space! The Xtronaut kits provide an out of this world opportunity for kids to easily access microgravity experimentation at school or at home, become scientists at an early age, and ignite their interest in science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM).”
-Kathleen Fredette, Director of STEAM Initiatives at iLEAD Schools
“Throughout my career in education and aerospace, I’ve understood the imperative for an educated workforce and applauded programs that successfully inspired young learners to participate in science, technology, engineering and mathematics endeavors. I am very excited about the release of the Xtronaut Space Station kits and am confident they will meet the important challenge of engaging the next generation of innovators and explorers.”
-Donald James, Former NASA Associate Administrator for Education
"Science is a process! It's creative, it's messy, and kids really get it when they're able to do their own projects and experiments. I can't wait to see what Xtronaut is able to put together with these kits and try them out with some of my students!"
-Tom McFadden, 8th Grade Biology Teacher at The Nueva School and Host of Science With Tom on YouTube
“GoldieBlox works to empower girls to reach for their dreams, whether on Earth or beyond. The Xtronaut Space Station kits are a great way for all kids to realize their potential to explore the world around them, building not only their dreams, but their skills and confidence, too.”
-Debbie Sterling, Founder and CEO of GoldieBlox
"As an astronaut I was lucky enough to conduct research in space – I wouldn’t have had to wait so long to be a space researcher if I’d had Xtronaut Space Station when I was a kid! Being part of cutting-edge experiments ignites the imagination and creative skills that I needed to be a successful astronaut candidate. I hope kids all over the globe enjoy and learn from these amazing kits."
-Nicole Stott, Artist / NASA Astronaut (STS-133, STS-129, ISS Expeditions 21 & 20, STS-128)
Xtronaut Education Program
Our first educational program - The Xtronaut STEM program, has been in use by the Boys and Girls Clubs of Metro Phoenix for two years. Hundreds of kids have benefited from this 14-week after-school science club.
"Thank you so much for taking the time to introduce the Xtronaut Program to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Phoenix! We are very impressed with the innovative approaches of the curriculum and feel that it would both provide a solid S.T.E.M. foundation for our members and develop an appreciation for the aerospace field and space exploration within them. We strongly support the expansion of this curriculum and look forward to being able to implement the Xtronaut Program within our 13 Clubhouses."
- Vonn R. Magnin, MPA Impact & Outreach Director, Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Phoenix
Constellations: The Game of Stargazing and the Night Sky
"Like Xtronaut: The Game of Solar System Exploration before it, Constellations is a family-friendly game that's both engaging and educational. I really enjoyed playing it with my kids and, as each game progressed, we learned a little bit ... while having a lot of fun."
Dave Banks, Games Editor at GeekDad.com
Xtronaut: The Game of Solar System Exploration
"Would-be astronauts get to launch missions into space with Xtronaut, learning scientific stuff along the way like rocket-building and gravity assists. GH Lab Notes: Our engineers were impressed with how accurately it represented space exploration - not surprising, as it was designed by a NASA mission leader."
Danielle Occhiogrosso, Good Housekeeping Magazine
Xtronaut Space Station is comprised of three team members:
Xtronaut Enterprises: We formed Xtronaut to inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers, and citizen scientists through space mission-related games and education programs. Professor Dante Lauretta, the leader of the NASA OSIRIS-REx mission (launched September 2016, to an asteroid named Bennu), and Michael Lyon, a leader in the space tourism sector (organizing the first tourist flights on the Soyuz Rocket to the ISS) founded Xtronaut. Our products are distinguished by their family-friendly engaging play and adherence to real scientific principles. Xtronaut’s debut game, Xtronaut: The Game of Solar System Exploration, was launched with a successful Kickstarter in October 2015. In April 2016, Xtronaut launched our second successful Kickstarter, introducing Constellations: The Game of Stargazing and the Night Sky.
DreamUp: DreamUp provides space-based educational opportunities to students and entrepreneurs, with a mission to realize an educational community where space-based research and space-based projects will be available to all students, from primary to post-doctorate, to the ISS and beyond. The first company bringing space into the classroom and the classroom into space, DreamUp is uniquely positioned to engage kids globally with the most cutting-edge space research and developments, and inspire them through scientific discoveries in orbital and suborbital space. DreamUp has a proven track record, having brought over 375 student research payloads worldwide to the ISS through our partnership with NanoRacks and its Space Act Agreement with NASA.
NanoRacks: A leader in operations on the ISS through a Space Act Agreement with NASA, NanoRacks has facilities on the U.S. National Lab on the ISS including its proprietary research modules. NanoRacks has led the efforts to build the experiment modules that will operate on the ISS and facilitated taking these modules to the ISS where NanoRacks will manage with NASA all experiment operations.
We have worked hard to be ready for this Kickstarter. With our special sponsors, we are confident we can deliver this program to our backers. When our campaign is funded, we will immediately place the order for production of the final product – all materials are ready to go, and the experiments have undergone extensive and fruitful testing. We will also ship the microscopes and games immediately! We have proven our manufacturing and distribution system with the Xtronaut and Constellations games and look forward to getting Xtronaut Space Station in your hands as soon as possible.
Risks and challenges
As with any project that involves the production and manufacture of a tangible product to be delivered, there is a real chance for production delays and other factors presenting challenges along the way. Many projects on Kickstarter have been severely hampered by art production delays, problems with an overseas factory, missing units, and shipping mistakes. We are also launching our experiments to space, so these launches could be delayed, which could extend the time frame for performing the experiments on the ISS.
Fortunately, the designers of these experiments are used to managing large projects. Just like in building a spacecraft, we developed plans to handle a broad range of contingencies. Our success with Xtronaut has resulted in a streamlined system for design, testing, production, and distribution. These experiments will be ready to go as soon as the campaign ends!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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