Meet Orion's Quest

The Orion’s Quest (OQ) staff is comprised of current or former educators and administrators who understand what goes on in the classroom. The OQ staff are dedicated to helping teachers connect their students with the space-based research of world class scientists.

Mission Statement

To challenge Students to excel in math and science through their active participation in space-based research.

 

Meet Orion's Quest

Our staff is dedicated to helping teachers connect their students with the space-based research of world-class scientists. Learn more about the people behind Orion's Quest here.

 

How the Program Works

Orion’s Quest places students in the role of research assistant in their classrooms supporting authentic research being conducted on the International Space Station. Our program has been designed by teachers who understand student needs, curriculum requirements, and the many demands placed on teachers today. The Orion’s Quest curriculum template covers each experiment, or “mission”, from pre-flight preparation to post-flight activities, including student and program evaluation.  Success is measured by the degree to which our program has positively affected the attitudes of students toward STEM related pursuits.

Orion’s Quest does not create experiments, but supports the authentic research of world-class scientists whose work is currently being conducted in space.

OQ’s programs are designed to be flexible, exploiting the Internet in support of existing classroom curricula. Our program can be offered as supplemental modules incorporated into the regular science classroom curriculum, used as a club/after school activity, or assigned as an independent study assignment. Regardless of the model that is chosen, teachers and students are supported throughout the program by Orion’s Quest Staff. Taking part in one of our missions typically requires only 3 to 5 classroom sessions.

Throughout the “mission” students and teachers are encouraged to submit questions for NASA scientists, engineers and technicians via the OQ staff. These questions are forwarded to the specific individuals and replies are provided to the particular student or teacher and, if appropriate, posted on the web site for the benefit of all participants. Following each mission, students, teachers, administrators and parents will participate in a brief evaluation of the OQ Program.

 

How We Are Financially Supported

Orion’s Quest is funded entirely through foundation grants and individual donations from generous supporters. You can support our program with a one-time donation or through our monthly giving program by clicking on the “Donate” button at the bottom of the Home Page of this site. We would be grateful for your support.  For any questions regarding support for Orion’s Quest please contact Scott Rosencrans, Development Director, at (734) 879-2728 or by email at rosencrans@orionsquest.org.

 

Past & Present Missions

Live missions (those currently in space) usually take place during a single semester while virtual missions (previously conducted in space) are available online throughout the school year. All material and equipment, either unique to the mission or not available in the classroom, is supplied by Orion's Quest.
Orion’s Quest is currently recruiting teachers for the live mission “Stem on Station” supporting the work of Dr. Joseph Wu from Stanford University and Dr. Peter Lee from Ohio State University. This mission uses the microgravity environment to grow stem cells that are of sufficient quantity and quality to use in the treatment of stroke patients. The results may have downstream applications in broad tissue engineering and regenerative medicine efforts.
virtual missions available this year are:

  • Managing Microbes in Space
  • Plant Growth in Space
  • Spiders in Space
  • Fruit Flies in Space
  • Butterflies in Space
  • Silicate Gardens in Space
  • Worms in Space

Our Project Partners

Directions and protocol for each classroom experiment are developed jointly by Orion’s Quest, scientists at BioServe Space Technologies, and NASA personnel.

Bioserve Space Technologies: A Center within the Aerospace Engineering and Sciences Department at the University of Colorado Boulder. For over 25 years, BioServe has designed, built and flown microgravity life science research and hardware on over 40 space flight missions. The Center is a full-service, turn-key organization that enables its customers and partners to focus solely on research development while BioServe manages all other activities required to successfully fly experiments in microgravity. In support of the classroom research activity BioServe collects near-real time video and/or images and data from orbit and provides them to the classroom via the OQ website.

Center for Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS): The sole manager of the International Space Station U.S. National Laboratory. CASIS provides us with lists of the experiments to be conducted on the space station in the coming year and we are able to choose those that are most suitable to our program. CASIS also facilitates introductions to the Principal Investigators who design and conduct the experiments and the facilities where mission equipment is developed. CASIS is also an important funding partner for our work.

NASA: Our relationship with NASA and the Principal Investigators who design and implement their experiments, affords us a diverse array of experiments that we can offer to teachers for participation by their students. We believe that such a diversity of subject matters allows for the greatest number of opportunities to capture the imagination of students with wide-ranging interests.

GPI Direct, Greenman’s Printing and Imaging: GPI provides all of our printed materials for classroom program use. They specialize in eco-friendly processes and materials.

 

Our History

Orion’s Quest was founded in 2004 following founder and current Executive Director Peter Lawrie’s service as an educational consultant to NASA when the Space Shuttle Columbia carried the Ladybugs in Space experiment into orbit on July 23, 1999. The mission was a project within NASA’s Educational Program that allowed students to observe science experiments being conducted in space and to replicate the experiment in their classroom as controls. Lawrie saw a unique opportunity to put NASA directly into classrooms across the nation.

We launched our first program in the 2004-05 academic year, involving 16 middle and high schools and approximately 1000 students, located in five major geographic hubs across the USA. During our 12 years in operation, our program has engaged approximately 20,000 students who participated in research experiments being conducted by NASA or a NASA supported scientist. To date we have averaged 25 participating teachers and 70 students per teacher per year.  In 2016 our count of 41 teachers equated to almost 3000 students in the program.

Our goal for the 2017-18 school year is to serve 50 teachers each semester equating to approximately 7,300 students.

 

Where We Work

Internet managed, Orion’s Quest reaches thousands of young people nationwide and, in some cases overseas, with the challenge of academic excellence. To date we have provided our program to students in Arizona, Michigan, Florida, Colorado, Texas, California, Wisconsin, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Montana, Delaware, New York, Maine, Ohio, Massachusetts, Kentucky, Canada, Malaysia, Nigeria, and Romania.

Our Sponsors

As a not-for profit, 501(C)(3), Orion’s Quest is funded solely by grants, gifts and donations. We work hard to identify and seek out sponsors and funding opportunities to support the program. Thanks for being a part of Orion’s Quest.

Start your classroom on an educational journey. Orion’s Quest is an internet delivered program for upper elementary, middle and high school students that seeks to reach the “Next Generation of Explorers”.

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