Whitney Houston believed the children are our future. Now NASA wants them to prove it by bringing to life a piece of technology from Star Trek.
NASA has partnered with The American Society for Mechanical Engineers Foundation and Star Trek to launch the Star Trek Replicator Challenge, a contest for students from kindergarten to 12th grade to “to design a non-edible, food related object for astronauts to 3D print in the year 2050.” The idea is to help bring to life Star Trek’s “replicator”—that awesome machine that allowed people on the Enterprise to instantly order almost any sort of object, including food.
For this challenge, however, NASA wants students to think beyond just getting an instantaneous pork chop. “Eating a meal in space involves more than the actual food itself—from growing plants to preparing and eating meals,” the challenge says on its website, so students are encouraged to think about what’s needed to grow, prepare, consume and dispose of food when designing their submissions.
Prizes for the contest, which runs until May 1, include things like a trip to New York to tour the real life Enterprise Space Shuttle with an astronaut and Star Trek prize packs. I’m sure most kids would rather have a Star Wars prize pack, but that teaches another valuable lesson: a career in engineering will never be quite as fulfilling as you’d hoped it’d be.