Inclusion in action

Inspiration and inclusion: encouraging future pioneers in STEM and space travel

Microsoft is teaming up with NASA to help ensure that pathways to new opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math are open to all.

On March 2nd, astronauts aboard the International Space Station will answer questions from students via a live in-flight education downlink, hosted by NASA’s STEM on Station team in partnership with Microsoft Education, at The Museum of Flight in Seattle. Student questions are due by midnight PST on February 7th using the form below.

2020 is a critical milestone for STEM, space travel, and inclusion. It marks 20 years of humans living and working continuously aboard the International Space Station. It means a generation of youth who’ve grown up in a time when humans live on Earth and in space. And as STEM jobs grow to over 9 million by 2022, it is also a critical time to encourage our youth to explore exciting and empowering career paths.

Currently, there’s a STEM gap—that is, a lack of women and minorities on the pathway to careers in STEM. The good news is that there are 20 million young people of color in the US with the potential to close these gaps, and an opportunity to tap into the 58% of women who count themselves out of STEM jobs altogether by the chance they’re in college. As we forge new frontiers in space travel and STEM, how can we ensure these opportunities are not only accessible to all, but also ignite passion and curiosity among young women and people of color?

NASA’s STEM on Station team has partnered with Microsoft’s Hacking STEM team to develop a hands-on STEM curriculum for middle and high school students based on real-life scenarios in space. And now, they’re empowering students by co-hosting an event at the Museum of Flight in Seattle that gives local students and students around the world the rare opportunity to have a live conversation with a space station astronaut.

The hope is that as space travel and the space economy gain momentum, hands-on programs and learning opportunities like this will motivate and inspire today’s youth to break through boundaries as they participate in this exhilarating era of human existence.

Two Middle school girls in a classroom, girl on the left is sitting and has a breadboard tapped to the top of her foot as the girl to the right applies pressure sensors to the top of her sock. Photo credit: Photo by Josef Reinke for Microsoft

Solve a real-world problem from life in space

Leading up to the In-flight Education Downlink, students are invited to tackle the Astro Socks Design Challenge in their classrooms, which tasks them to design mitigation prototypes in the form of socks that protect astronauts’ feet from microgravity.
The challenge comes from a collection of middle and high school lessons developed by Microsoft Education in partnership with NASA about living and working in space.

Ask the astronauts

Middle and high school students are invited to submit questions for the live in-flight conversation with space station astronauts.

All submitted questions will be considered, and 20 will be chosen for the live Microsoft Education Downlink. Questions will be chosen based on their connection to the Astro Socks activity, NASA’s Artemis program, and astronauts’ experiences living and working on the space station.

If your student’s question is chosen, you will be contacted and asked to submit a media release for the youth and a video recording of the student asking their question. Use this form to submit student questions.

This form may only be submitted by educators or adult supervisors working with youth. All information should pertain to the adult filling out this form.

  • Name * Required
  • Address * Required
  • Grade level of student(s) submitting questions? * Required
  • Consent * Required
    By selecting "I agree," you consent to be contacted by Microsoft for the duration of the Microsoft Education NASA Downlink event engagement.

For information on how Microsoft handles your personal information, please see

An astronaut in orbit floating near the International Space Station wearing a white EVA suit waves hello to the camera.