UK schoolkids heading to NASA

by Chris Bergin

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly paid a flying visit to Northern England last week to launch a competition to visit two space centers in the States and try out a Shuttle flight simulator.

The former pilot of space shuttle Discovery dropped into Royton and Crompton School in Oldham to help inspire the next generation of space travellers.

It’s part of a competition by Edge into Space, an international space school education trust to promote science and engineering.
Teams of students have to submit an idea that could be developed in space to improve life on earth, or developed on earth to improve life in space.
A winning team from each region will travel to the Kennedy Space Centre, in Florida, and Johnson Space Centre, in Houston.
Scott, 41, who is hoping to travel into space again in 2007, revealed details of the competition to a school hall packed full of star-struck children.
His presentation included videos and slides of his eight-day mission to repair the Hubble Telescope in 1999.
He said: ‘Some of the greatest inventors in history were British. I want to help keep that proud tradition by finding the next generation.’
Desmond Herlihy, headteacher, said: ‘It was an honour to have an astronaut speak to the pupils.
‘Royton and Crompton is about loosening the shackles of ambition and what better way to do that than have somebody who has loosened the shackles of gravity and brought that message and experience.’
Pupil Rachel Whitehead, 16, said: ‘He gave a really good insight into what life is like in space. I’ve already started talking about the competition with my friends.’
Meanwhile in Scotland, seven Highland youngsters are preparing for lift-off and a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

They are among 52 students who have been selected to travel to America and spend 10 days at a camp at the NASA Space Centre in Houston.

The seven selected are Lynsey Stewart from Hermitage Academy; Cheryl Burgar, Oban High School, and Isla Sheldrick, all from Argyll and Bute.

The four Highlanders are: Donald Slater, Culloden Academy; Gladys Macrae, Fortrose Academy; Gavin Eardley, Lochaber High School, and Jeff Lawrie, Mallaig High School.

They will spend 10 days undertaking space-related learning activities, including lectures and group work with NASA space cadets, astronauts and scientists.

They will also have the opportunity to visit the space shuttle, space agency laboratories and get a behind-the-scenes view of the world of space exploration.

All are S4 students of Careers Scotland Space School, a world-leading programme managed by the jobs agency and supported by the Scottish Executive and NASA.

Its aim is to increase participation and motivation of students in science and technology and to help young people understand how the subjects apply to making real career choices.

The successful 52, who will attend the space camps in January or September, were selected from around 3,000 students nationwide, who completed a distance-learning programme.

Around 120 students not selected for the trip will attend a residential summer school in June, hosted by the University of Strathclyde and which will focus on electronics and life sciences and are supported by astronauts and scientists.

Extracts first published by the Oldham Advertiser and Scotland’s Press and Journal.

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