Mission to Space – Mission Complete!

Selwyn House students are frequently encouraged to ‘reach for the moon’, and last week a group of 56 Year 7 and 8 students took a more literal approach to that goal.  They spent the week immersed in Selwyn House School’s first Mission to Space camp, which was developed and delivered in partnership with the International Antarctic Centre and Haka Educational Tours.

The students learnt about astronomy, flight, moon missions, mars, space junk, water survival, rocket building and more, all brought to life with hands-on activities including a flight at the Canterbury Aero Club, ziplining at the Christchurch Adventure Park, a visit to the Star Dome at the International Antarctic Centre, and an overnight ‘spaceship’ stay in the Jucy Snooze pods.

The programme was co-constructed by Selwyn House Science and Mechatronics Teacher, Simon Christie, who has previously taken small groups of students to Space Camp in the USA, and saw the need to develop a home-grown programme. 

“With the disruption to travel from Covid, we have not been able to take students to Space Camp in the US in the last few years, so I wanted to find a way to create a programme here at home that would give our students the same opportunities to learn about the wonders of space.  We are so lucky to have the International Antarctic Centre here on our doorstep, who already run excellent space education programmes, so by working alongside them and also Haka Educational Tours, we have been able to construct this customised, week-long Mission to Space camp for our students. 

“We see it as our mission to equip the students with as much passion and knowledge for science and technology as possible. That is the value of this programme – we want them to know their opportunities, appreciate the irrelevance of gender to those opportunities, and then want to take them. We believe that this is the right age to do it, before High School subjects have to be selected and before the opinions of their peers start to really take hold,” Mr Christie said.

Principal Julie Calder said there is already a strong focus on ‘STEAM’ (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Maths) learning at Selwyn House and the Mission to Space camp is an extension of that: “The STEAM subjects are so important because they develop the knowledge and skills that will be most needed in the next generation’s workforce. Being a girls school, we feel it is our responsibility to open our students’ minds to some of the incredible opportunities that are out there for them, including those that have traditionally been more male-dominated.  We are particularly thrilled to have had some amazing female speakers from NASA and Rocket Lab, which supports our ‘if you can see it, you can be it’ approach. I have no doubt that this group of girls went home at the end of the week exhausted but inspired and with a whole new world of opportunity opened up to them.”

Selwyn House student, Eleanor Neale, said the week was full of incredible new experiences and learning: “We have learnt so much about things that you don’t usually get to learn about at school, like learning all about how aeroplanes work and what the different buttons and controls do, then getting to fly in them. It has been amazing.”

Fellow student, Grace Evans, said the Mission to Space camp had opened her eyes to what the space industry entails: “I woke up every morning feeling motivated, inspired and excited to find out what we were going to be doing that day. This has shown me all of these opportunities in the space industry that I didn’t know about before and I feel so grateful for that.”

Space 5

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