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Published 11 June 2018

Students and teacher off to International Space Camp

Five students and one teacher have been selected by the Society to attend the International Space Camp (ISC) in Huntsville, Alabama in July.

The Society received over 100 applications from students wishing to attend ISC and the selection panel were most impressed with the standard of applicants

ISC bring together students and educators from all over the world to build relationships and challenge themselves as learners. Thirty-five countries participate and some of these include Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, France and the United Kingdom.

The students and educators will be both challenged academically and physically through extended duration missions and, if they wish, experiencing microgravity in the Underwater Astronaut Trainer.

Seventy per cent of the travel and registration costs are funded by the Talented School Students Travel Award, managed by Royal Society Te Apārangi and funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

The students selected are: 

Sophie Deam, Year 13 student from Papanui High School, Christchurch

Sophie says: “I have always had an interest in space and astronomy, and throughout high school I really began to act on this interest. I read books about space and I follow NASA on Instagram and

I’ve also recently been accepted into the Elaine P. Snowden School of Astronomy which is run by the University of Canterbury. Only 20 from 150 applicants were accepted. I push myself to excel in mathematics and physics and next year I would like to study a Bachelor of Science at the University of Canterbury and eventually become an astrophysicist.”

Callum Greig, Year 13 student from Paraparaumu College, Kapiti Coast

Callum is very involved in school activities, including playing in the school volleyball team for the last five years and coaching a team for the last three years. On top of that, he tutors students in English, Mathematics and Science and runs an astronomy club at school where he has organised trips to the Carter Observatory. Last year he decided to study NCEA Level 2 Earth and Space Science independently, as his school does not offer that subject. “I self-taught myself an external astronomy paper, for which I achieved a merit grade” Callum said. He plans to study engineering at university and then perhaps go on to study astrophysics. 

Alexia Landry, Year 13 student from Nelson College for Girls’

Alexia has a strong desire to complete her tertiary study in the field of physics and is particularly interested in astrophysics. In addition to her studies at school, Alexia has been an active member in a number of extra-curricular activities in her senior year. She has founded a lunchtime current issues club, tutors younger students in mathematics and science and volunteers at a number of community events.  She is also a mentor for Big Brothers Big Sisters where she is a trusting “big sister” for a young Nepalese girl now living in Nelson.

Alexia also recently found out that she has been selected to attend the International Summer School for Young Physicists (ISSYP) at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Canada. This challenging two-week programme starts three days after Space Camp. Alexia said: “Participating at ISC and ISSYP will help me learn more about science and it will be great to be taught about scientific concepts, especially beyond what is offered in the high school curriculum. July is going to be a very busy month”.

Vivek Panchal, Year 12 student at Howick College, Auckland

Vivek has been a volunteer at Stardome Observatory since 2016 and a member of the Auckland Astronomical Society. Vivek topped his school for Year 9 and Year 10. He passed Level 1 NCEA with an overall excellence endorsement and also participated in the Education Prefect Science Championships, where he topped the school and was in the top 5% of 80,000 competitors around the world. He says: “I am very interested in all aspects of science (particularly physics and chemistry), but I am also curious to understand a lot more than meets the eye (like electromagnetic radiation). I am looking forward to meeting like-minded people that love and enjoy science where we can share and discuss issues that face our world today. ” Vivek would like to study physics or engineering at university the year after next.

Sarah Poulter, Year 11 student from St Mary’s College, Auckland

Although Sarah is only in Year 12 at school she has already passed Level 2 NCEA with excellence and Calculus Level 3 with excellence. She is a volunteer school librarian and volunteers for her local surf club. She says: “I am searching for the science career path that will enable me the opportunity to have the greatest impact on our society. I was lucky enough to witness the Rocket Lab launch in Mahia earlier this year and this reinforced my interest in studying aerospace engineering. At the age of eight, I built a "life size" model rocket out of cardboard. Squeezed inside I could travel to the moon”.

The teacher selected to accompany the students is: 

Erin Nolan, a science teacher at Trident High School, Whakatane

Erin says: “Ever since the fourth form I have had a passion for Geology and chose to study that at university. When I first started teaching, I was disappointed to see that it wasn’t offered much in the old Science curriculum but we did teach a little bit of it at Year 10 and 11. I was very excited when it was introduced as a fourth science subject as I could finally teach my background and share my passion for Earth Science with my students.  The main reason why I love it and enjoy teaching it is partly because of where we live. Living in Whakatane, there is lots of active geology around us, which makes the subject applicable to our students. We also have an observatory which we are taking students up to, so that they can look at the stars and planets that they are learning about.”  

Source: Royal Society Te Apārangi