Star Trek’s replicators were the original 3D printers in space, and now NASA and Star Trek are asking students to help make them a reality. The Star Trek Replicator Challenge tasks K-12 students with designing a non-edible food item that could be printed by astronauts living off the Earth in the year 2050.
The ASME Foundation’s Future Engineers program is taking on food in space with a little help from Star Trek. The Star Trek Replicator Challenge is a contest sponsored by ASME Foundation, NASA, and Star Trek to get K-12 students to develop food-related items that could be 3D printed in places like Mars, the moon, deep space, or wherever they see human space explorers in the year 2050. The official website describes the contest without missing a single opportunity for a Star Trek reference:
Calling all Starfleet cadets! Star Trek™ and NASA want you to engineer the future of food in space. If you are a K-12 student in the United States, your challenge is to create a digital 3D model of a non-edible, food-related item for astronauts to 3D print in the year 2050. We want students to ‘boldy go where no one has gone before’ with 3D printing, by making designs that help astronauts eat nutritious meals so they can ‘live long and prosper’ in locations beyond the International Space Station. Eating a meal in space involves more than the actual food itself – from growing plants to preparing and eating meals.
The Star Trek Replicator Challenge, which launched at a Kids’ Week event at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York, will runs through May 1. Winners will receive prizes such as a trip to New York for an astronaut-guided tour of the Space Shuttle Enterprise at the Intrepid Museum, a 3-D printer for the winners’ school, or a Star Trek prize pack.
Go to http://www.futureengineers.org/startrek to read the rules and enter the contest.