The Andy Thomas Space Foundation has kick-started two programs for South Australian primary and high schools, introducing students to the excitement of space science and technology in the classroom.
These programs, piloted in 2021, are part of the Foundation’s 2022 Education Fund. To date the Fund has pledged over $500,000 towards space education activities and opportunities for students and early career researchers of all ages across Australia.
Foundation Chair, Michael Davis AO, commented that ‘The importance of supporting space education initiatives in schools is evidenced by the response of the students to the learning and problem solving challenges they are presented with. Space-related projects are a wonderful source of inspiration for students, and they also assist to shape tomorrows space workforce’.
The two programs, while similar in purpose and goals, approach space innovation and education in unique and interactive ways. The primary schools program, conducted in collaboration with Australian education technology start-up, Makers Empire, utilises design challenges to expose students to space innovation, with the assistance of 3D printing and app-supported development resources.
Co-CEO of Makers Empire, Jon Soong says that “Being part of this program has helped young students develop an interest in space, engage in STEM learning connected to real-world problem-solving and gain an understanding of some of the pathways to a career in space.”
The secondary schools program, coordinated by Hamilton Secondary College, facilitates the use of the Aldrin Foundation’s Giant Mars Map to engage students in a deeper understanding of space travel – the purpose, the challenges and the risks.
Peta Kourbelis, Principal of Hamilton Secondary College said, “We are excited to see that the range of projects proposed by schools are increasingly innovative. Also, more rural schools are involved, allowing students from throughout South Australia to find out about the amazing opportunities and careers available in the rapidly expanding space sector”.
These programs for schools are two of the nine educational scholarship and award opportunities on offer from the Foundation in 2022.
With grand plans to continue to grow its education fund offerings, the Foundation’s CEO, Nicola Sasanelli AM, said ‘In its first two years, the Foundation has already facilitated extraordinary learning experiences for over 150 students across the nation, with that number growing quickly as we continue to expand and increase our offerings. With clearly identifiable pathways available for students interested in and passionate about the Australian Space industry, we are proud to play our part in supporting this growth and producing the next generation of leaders for the sector”