A centerpiece to the Space DayTM program is the Student Signatures in Space¨ (S3) project, which gives elementary and middle school students the opportunity to send their personal signatures into space. Lockheed Martin and NASA have partnered to present the S3 program.
The goal of the Student Signatures in Space program is to pique students' interest in space by getting them "personally" involved in a space shuttle mission.
Participating schools are sent giant posters for their students to sign on Space Day (held annually on the first Friday in May) along with supporting educational materials and program memorabilia. Participants return the posters to Lockheed Martin, and the signatures are digitally captured from the posters. NASA then includes the signatures in the manifest of a U.S. space shuttle mission. The mission selected for the S3 initiative is usually one that is launched in the fall of that year's S3 project. This ensures that most schools are in session during the mission, providing a great teaching opportunity for educators from participating schools to engage students as they follow "their" mission. When school resumes in the fall, S3 participants receive ongoing emails of space-related lesson plans, S3 mission status reports and teaching information. After the mission, the posters are returned to the schools for permanent display along with an official NASA certificate verifying the signatures flew in space A photo of the crew that took up the signatures is also included.
The first Student Signatures in Space project was held to celebrate Space Day 1997 when more than 96,000 signatures from over 220 U.S. elementary schools traveled aboard the Shuttle-Mir docking mission STS-86 that September. Since then, the program has included thousands of schools, as well as hundreds of science museums and regional Boy Scout and Girl Scout Councils. To date, 5.6 million signatures have flown on various missions, including STS-95, the historic shuttle mission that returned Senator John Glenn to space.
Participating schools are selected in a variety of ways. Many are by representatives from Lockheed Martin or Space Day Partner companies throughout the world. These representatives "sponsor" one or more of local schools, often providing additional Space Day activities to support the signature activity. Sponsors conduct events such as space trivia contests and spelling bees, field trips, guest speakers, poster and essay contests, hands-on displays, space-related experiments and lesson plans, model rocket building and rocket launchings, and numerous other activities. School names are often submitted by representatives from various NASA centers and international space agencies, as well as from representatives from the U.S. Congress. Many schools hear about the project on their own. To sign up, contact the S3 program coordinator (see sign-up information below). The goal is to ensure that all states are evenly represented in the program each year.
There is no cost to schools to participate in Student Signatures in Space. All costs (including shipping both ways) are paid by Lockheed Martin.
Having signatures flown on the Space Shuttle is a privilege as storage space is extremely limited on each mission. Approximately 500 schools per year can participate in the S3 program. The S3 objective is to sign up as many schools as possible that have not participated in the program. Once we reach this goal, a wait list is established for the following year. Thus, to ensure that as many students as possible are able to participate, the following applies:
- Schools are allowed to participate only once every six years (this ensures a six year cycle of students per that school's participation). Past participants that are eligible for the S3 program in 2009 are schools that participated in 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, or 2003.Click here for a list of past participants.
- Schools must include their entire school in the project vs. one or a few classrooms from that school
- Home schools may participate as an organized local group (i.e., rather than having the two students who make up the "Smith family home school" register as an entire school, the Smith family can register their local home school group/organization and participate with all other home schoolers)
- Scouting troops/packs/dens may participate as part of their regional council group
Although S3 lesson plans are geared more toward elementary and middle schools, the S3 program is open to all schools, including high schools.
- 1. Name of school
- 2. Physical/FedX-deliverable address of school, including street address, city, state, and zip code (no P.O. boxes, please)
- 3. School's phone number
- 4. Name of school principal
- 5. Name and job title of employee at the school who will be coordinating project (if not principal)
- 6. Email address of person in #5 above
- 7. How did you hear about the S3 program?
If you are a school sponsor and would like to be listed as the school's sponsor, please include the following information:
- 8. Your name
- 9. Your job title
- 10. Your company's name (if Lockheed Martin, please identify which LM company)
- 11.Your work mailing address
- 12. Your work phone number
- 13. Your email address