Students connected with International Space Station

Wednesday, 06 April, 2022

Students connected with International Space Station

A real-world learning experience designed to connect western Sydney high school students with the International Space Station has been announced by the Powerhouse.

Thanks to a collaboration between the Powerhouse, and the NSW Department of Education, students will be challenged to use NASA-inspired design thinking techniques to develop their own space and Earth-based experiments.

The Powerhouse: Future Space program was launched at a local participating school, Arthur Phillip High School, on Friday 1 April by the new Head of the Powerhouse Parramatta Lang Walker Family Academy, Sophie Poisel, STEM Project Advisor Dr Scott Sleap and Sue Walker.

The program connects Stage 5 students (Years 9 and 10) from six Western Sydney local government areas to a global network of learners through the ExoLab-10 mission. The 2022 mission ‘Carbon Farmer’ uses scientific enquiry to teach students about the importance of the carbon cycle on Earth and in space. Students will become climate change solutionaries by experimenting with growing alfalfa in the classroom. By conducting their own ground trials in line with an active experiment on board the International Space Station, they can compare data on effective methods for growing crops in microgravity to sustain future space missions and help filter carbon dioxide from the air for astronauts on long space flights.

Powerhouse: Future Space will be delivered in tandem with the Powerhouse: Design For Space Challenge as part of the newly developed iSTEM Department Approved Elective. Throughout the three-year program, high schools across NSW will have the opportunity to design and produce their own prototype ExoLab device, simulating a space mission to the International Space Station. The most successful prototype will be launched as early as 2024. Maitland Grossmann High School and Murrumbidgee Regional High School will be involved in a virtual pilot of the program.

“Giving Western Sydney students the chance to be part of a simulated mission to the International Space Station is an incredible way to launch our Lang Walker Family Academy. Quality STEM education is crucial to ensuring our next generations lead the way in these industries of the future. We are proud to be a driving force behind this research initiative to enable kids to learn about the carbon cycle on earth and its comparisons in space,” Lang Walker AO said.

“The Parramatta Future Space program provides a unique opportunity for students to be inspired through the prism of space … Ultimately, we hope graduates will be leaders amongst the 20,000 space jobs estimated to be created by 2030,” said STEM Project Advisor 7-12 NSW Department of Education Dr Scott Sleap.

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