Pupils to send experiment to the International Space Station

Pupils to send experiment to the International Space Station

Six Ayrshire pupils who developed a space experiment at Mission Discovery Ayrshire 2018 will see their idea sent to space and tested by astronauts at the International Space Station.

The third Mission Discovery Ayrshire space programme was a huge success, delivered at Ayrshire College’s Kilmarnock Campus by the International Space School Educational Trust (ISSET) to over 150 secondary school pupils from East, North and South Ayrshire.

The participants worked in mixed teams to design space experiments, with the knowledge that the winning idea would be launched into space later this year.

23 teams developed experiments over the course of the week, with the help of the ISSET team that included NASA astronaut Steve Bowen, NASA’s Deputy of Orion Vehicle Systems Performance and Analysis, Sarah Murray, and ISSET Chief Scientist Julie Keeble.

Team 20 was announced as the winner with their idea: Microgravity on the effect of phospholipase A2 (venom) on Staphylococcus aureus.

The experiment involves taking proteins from snake venom and investigating whether they can use it to treat diseases and infections that antibiotics can no longer treat.

Alicia Burns (Irvine Royal Academy), Megan Denim (Kilmarnock Academy), Tyler Mitchell (Girvan Academy), Andy Morrison (Queen Margaret Academy), Sam Rae (Belmont Academy) and Savannah Scott (St. Matthew’s Academy) were delighted when the judges read out their names.

Winning team member Savannah said “It's been an amazing opportunity. I've learnt so much and met so many lovely people during this process. You don't really expect to come here and learn so much, you expect to use the skills you've already got. But I've genuinely learnt so much on so many different topics, and obviously had the opportunity to make new friends.”

Fellow team member Tyler said “I'm absolutely shocked. Winning is an absolute honour as I didn’t see us getting through to the final to be fair. I've never experienced presenting to such a big crowd before but it’s a good experience to build on. I've learnt a lot of things about biology that I didn't know, and I've learnt how to present and how to work in a team.”

Teammate Megan said “I still don't believe our experiment will be going to the International Space Station. It's amazing that we came up with the idea in four days and it'll be going into space. It was just a great week.”

Mission Discovery Ayrshire 2018 was sponsored by the Ayrshire College Foundation, Developing the Young Workforce Ayrshire, East Ayrshire Council, North Ayrshire Council, South Ayrshire Council, Glasgow Prestwick Spaceport, NATS and the Ayr Rotary Club.

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.

Heather Dunk OBE, Ayrshire College Principal, said “Mission Discovery is a really innovative programme, and Ayrshire College is all about innovation. We want to help the next generation think about opportunities in STEM and Mission Discovery is a really fun way to do that. The programme this year has been outstanding. The young people have gone up a notch and their engagement has been tremendous."

The first day of Mission Discovery Ayrshire 2018 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 NASA astronaut Steve Bowen and the rest of the ISSET team.

22 June 2018

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