Courses at Ayrshire College

Mission Discovery Ayrshire winners announced

Mission Discovery Ayrshire winners announced

Seven Ayrshire pupils who developed a space experiment at Mission Discovery Ayrshire 2017 will see their idea sent to space and tested by astronauts at the International Space Station.

Mission Discovery Ayrshire 2017 was a week-long educational space programme delivered at Ayrshire College’s Kilmarnock Campus by The International Space School Educational Trust (ISSET) to 150 secondary school pupils and college students. The participants worked in mixed teams to design space experiments, knowing that the best idea would launch to the International Space Station in 2018.

22 teams developed their experiments over the course of the week, with the help of the ISSET team: Michael Foale CBE, former NASA astronaut, Sarah Murray, NASA HQs Council Executive / Mission Support and Partnership Councils and ISSET Chief Scientist Julie Keeble.

Team 3, otherwise known as ‘Space Raiders’, was announced as the winner with their idea investigating ‘The photosynthesis of phytoplankton in microgravity and the generation of electricity’.

Simon Gibbons (Kyle Academy), Alex Hill (Queen Margaret Academy), Adam Martin (Belmont Academy), Lauren McGee (Belmont Academy), Jodie McMail (St. Matthews Academy), Eva Peters (Grange Academy), Lee Salisbury (Garnock Academy) and Benjamin Sonnet (Auchenharvie Academy) were delighted when the judges read out their names.

Winning team member Adam Martin explained what the experiment idea is. He said “We take a petri dish filled with phytoplankton, shine a light on it so that it undergoes photosynthesis and generates electricity, then we try to prove that in space it would be harnessed more efficiently and provide more electricity for the International Space Station.”

Fellow team member Lauren McGee said “I’ve always struggled with presenting in front of people and I feel that this week has helped me a lot with that. I felt really confident doing it, although I have to say I did not expect this outcome. I’m overwhelmed to be honest!”

Teammate Alex Hill said “It’s a pretty surreal experience to be here, competing against so many people and coming out on top. I did think our experiment had potential and it’s a great experience to be named the winning team.”

Mission Discovery Ayrshire 2017 was sponsored by the Ayrshire College Foundation, Glasgow Prestwick Spaceport, NATS and the Ayr Rotary Club. This is the second time Ayrshire College has hosted the programme, with the College’s Ayr Campus hosting the inaugural event last year.

Allied to the objectives of Ayrshire College, the Ayrshire College Foundation provides financial support for Ayrshire-based projects that provide educational opportunities for all age groups.

The winning experiment from last year is currently on the International Space Station right now being worked on by astronauts Jack Fischer and Peggy Whitson. Their idea investigates the growth of slime mold across various surfaces (rubber/aluminium/velcro/plastic) in microgravity, and was launched to the International Space Station on 1 June on-board SpaceX CRS-11.

Tracey Stark, Chair of the Ayrshire College Foundation, said “I came into this week with high expectations having seen the videos from last year and spoken to other Ayrshire College Foundation members, and I’ve been absolutely blown away by it.

“The Foundation believes the Mission Discovery programme will prove hugely beneficial to Ayrshire by inspiring youngsters to get into STEM.”

The final day of Mission Discovery Ayrshire 2017 saw third year pupils from Ayrshire secondary schools take part in a taster day ahead of future programmes.

Pupils took part in team building activities and launched their own rockets in the company of former NASA astronaut Michael Foale CBE and the rest of the ISSET team.

26 June 2017

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