The Andy Thomas Space Foundation is launching its primary and high school programs to introduce space science and technology into the classroom, with the intention of taking the innovative courses national.
Piloted in 2021, these programs are two of the nine educational scholarship and award opportunities on offer from the Foundation in 2022 and approach space innovation and education in unique and interactive ways.
Andy Thomas Space Foundation Chair, Michael Davis AO, said 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 tomorrow’s space workforce,” Davis said.
The primary school program is in collaboration with the South Australian education technology company Makers Empire and utilises design challenges to expose students to space innovation with the assistance of 3D printing and app-supported development resources.
Two to five teachers from each school will train with subject-matter experts who will share how space technology is being used to solve problems on earth.
Co-CEO of Makers Empire, Jon Soong, said the program helps young students develop an interest in space.
“It engages them in STEM learning connected to real-world problem-solving to gain an understanding of some of the pathways to a career in space,” he said.
The secondary school program is coordinated by Hamilton Secondary College and facilitates the use of the Aldrin Foundation’s Giant Mars Map to engage students in a deeper understanding of space travel.
Principal of Hamilton Secondary College, Peta Kourbelis, said she was excited to see that the range of projects proposed by schools is increasingly innovative.
“More rural schools are involved, allowing students from throughout South Australia to find out about the amazing opportunities available in the rapidly expanding space sector,” she said.
The Andy Thomas Space Foundation Education Fund has pledged more than $500,000 towards space education activities and opportunities for students and early career researchers and plans to continue growing its offerings.
Andy Thomas Space Foundation CEO, Nicola Sasanelli AM, said the foundation has reached more than 150 students across Australia in its first two years of operation.”
“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,” Sasanelli said.
“Adelaide, and especially the Discovery Centre at Lot Fourteen, will be the epicentre of this program, and we have the ambition to take this national to more than 80 schools around Australia.”