By WRAL Tech Wire STEM News

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – North Carolina is represented on YouTube’s Space Lab.

Dr. Todd Boyette, director of the Morehead Planetarium at UNC Chapel Hill, was one of seven prestigious judges who joined the YouTube Space Lab competition on Thursday.

This brings the judging panel to more than 35 and includes distinguished scientists, astronauts, and international experts such as renowned professor Stephen Hawking.

The YouTube Space Lab competition is a global science competition and ongoing education program launched earlier this month with Lenovo and other space agencies throughout the world. It will serve as a home base for creating, sharing, and discovering some of the best space and science-related videos on the planet.

The competition invites 14-18 year olds around the world to come up with an idea for a science experiment that can be conducted in space and upload a video explaining it to YouTube.

Boyette became the Morehead Planetarium’s fifth director in July 2006 after an international search. Boyette is an accomplished science center director having previously served as the president and CEO of The Health Adventure in Asheville, and Imagination Station in Wilson. He is also a past president of the North Carolina Grassroots Science Museums Collaborative.

Boyette holds four degrees from N.C. State University, including a doctorate in science education, a master’s degree in science education and bachelor’s degrees in science education and chemistry. He also has experience as program coordinator for N.C. State’s Science House, a lab manager at UNC Chapel Hill and as a classroom chemistry teacher.

In addition to Boyette, others added this week include: Professor Anthony Aveni, Colgate University; James Kuhl, Central Square Middle School, Syracuse, N.Y.; Steve Heck, Teachers in Space Program & Math and Science Teacher, Milford, Ohio; Arimasa Naitoh, Lenovo Fellow and Vice President of Development, Product Group; Rachael Manzer, Pathfinder Astronaut, Teachers in Space Program & STEM Coach, Hartford, Conn.; and Mike Schmidt, Pathfinder Astronaut, Teachers in Space Program & Math Teacher, Tucson, Ariz.

“The Space Lab program brings together the brightest minds in space-related fields today, to inspire students – our next generation of scientists, engineers and adventurers – to learn about the world around them and wonder what’s possible,” said Michael Schmedlen, worldwide director of education at Lenovo. “We are thrilled that the science community is embracing this unique program to help us reach more classrooms, homes and communities to encourage students to pursue careers and hobbies in the fields of science, technology and math.”

Since launching two weeks ago, more than 1 million people throughout the world have visited the Space Lab channel on YouTube to learn more about the competition and to participate.

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