Space Colony Contest 1994 Results


Displays of some of colony designs can be found at the NASA Ames Teacher Resource Center in Mountain View, California.

Statistics

There were a total of 23 submissions by about 60 participants. Two ninth grade classes participated. There was one participant from Canada and a group from Singapore, the rest were from the U.S. Most entries included a picture, usually hand drawn on large paper. One contestant submitted via email. Judging from the names and meeting some of the kids, the participants were extremely diverse ethnically.

Grand Prize Winner

DHL, Inc. -- a fictitious company of three ninth graders: Gary Diaz, Randall Hom, and Michael Leong -- won the grand prize. Their colony housed about one billion people and is estimated to cost several quadrillion dollars. The design is dominated by a number of tori (almost cylinders since the minor radius is very small) that make up the living areas. The submission included a color poster and a physical model. The writing was excellent and the physics and engineering good considering their age and education.

Typical Problems

Many of the contestants didn't understand that people must live on the inside of rotating structures with feet pointing outwards.

Most entries were from younger kids (6-9th grade group). Not surprisingly their physics was weak. This suggests that conceptual physics should perhaps be taught to younger kids -- at least from the point of view of winning space colony contests.

Strengths

There was a lot of good art work and a couple of inspired space aliens (somewhat peripheral to the contest but appreciated none-the-less). Almost all contestants recognized the need for excellent environmental controls and minimization of pollutants. Most colony designs had provisions for recycling. There were many discussions of government and social issues with points of view ranging from anarchistic to totalitarian.

To the space settlement home page.

Author: Al Globus