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2023 Drop Tower Challenge

DIVER: Diving into Experimental Research

DIVER 2023 winners with LisaCarnell montageWinners of the 2023 DIVER challenge with Dr. Lisa Carnell, director of NASA’s Biological & Physical Sciences Division (BPS) in Washington, DC at the 2023 meeting of the American Society for Gravitational and Space Research (ASGSR).

First Place (left)

Will it Float? A Microgravity Study of the Factors Influencing a Solid’s Wettability
Sofia Eisenberg and Grace Young
Richard Montgomery High School, Rockville, MD

Second Place (center)

Dynamics in Microgravity
Darren W. Cheng, Ryan W. Cheng, and Jonathan L. Lin
Palos Verdes Peninsula High School, Rolling Hills Estates, CA

Third Place (right)

Designing a Hydrophilic Object that Submerges in Water Under Conditions of Microgravity
Ethan Plageman
Bloom Carroll Middle School, Carroll, OH


Teams of grade 8-12 students are challenged to design and build simple devices which in normal gravity will float in water, but which will submerge as far as possible because of wetting characteristics when they experience apparent weightlessness, i.e., microgravity, in NASA’s 2.2 Second Drop Tower (shown below).  An example diving test can be seen at

2.2 second drop tower
2.2 second drop tower

Teams are only responsible for their diving devices, where NASA will provide the rest of the experimental hardware.  After developing their concept(s), the youth prepare their proposal, consisting of conceptual drawing(s) and a short entry form, which is e-mailed to

If selected, the youth prepare their unique diving devices per guidelines provided on the challenge website.  The devices are then sent to NASA where they will fall 24 meters (79 feet).  Video results are provided for student analysis and reporting.


This design challenge is for students in grades 8-12 from U.S. schools, including the fifty states, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and all DODEA schools (which are for children of U.S. military personnel).  Except for the DODEA schools, this challenge is not open to participants outside of the United States regardless of citizenship.

Teams, which can be of any size, will be favored over individuals in selection.  Youth are free to get help from adults, for example in building their experiment hardware.  An organization (e.g., school, science center, 4H club, Scout troop, group of friends) may submit no more than four proposals, where it is envisioned that no more than two will be selected from a single organization.  Each student may belong to no more than one team, which may submit no more than one proposal.


asgsr logoNASA anticipates selecting up to 20 teams to build objects to be tested at the Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio. After evaluation of the experimental results and teams’ reports, a small number of top-performing teams will be invited to present their results in a student poster session at the 2023 meeting of the American Society for Gravitation and Space Research (ASGSR).


Participation is remote, where participants do not travel to NASA for the testing.  An exception is for those teams invited to present their results at the 2023 ASGSR meeting, but the location will not be announced until Nov. 2022.


Testing in the 2.2 Second Drop Tower
Testing in the 2.2 Second Drop Tower

There is no cost to participate in the challenges other than for (1) the preparation of the test objects, (2) the shipment of the test objects to NASA, and (3) travel costs for those invited to present their results at the ASGSR meeting.  Regarding the latter, the ASGSR has normally provided travel support of $500 each for invited non-local students who present their results at the conference.


2022   Nov. 13 deadline for proposal
Early December NASA announces teams selected for testing
2023   Jan.-February preparation of test objects
Feb. 13 deadline for arrival of test objects at NASA
Feb.-March testing in NASA’s 2.2 Second Drop Tower
April analysis and report writing
May 1 deadline for written report
Mid-May NASA announces teams selected for ASGSR participation
Fall 2023 annual ASGSR meeting (probably in early Nov.)


Drop Tower LevelsThe odds are quite good that your team will be selected for testing.  Thus far, 100% of the proposing teams have been selected for participation in this series of problem-based drop tower challenges.  Participation in a nation-wide NASA challenges could be good to include in college applications.



DIVER 2023 Flyer
DIVER 2023 Entry Form


Answers can be found at  If that doesn’t suffice, email the challenge staff at

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