Crawley pupils were delighted when a British astronaut congratulated them for winning a regional maths prize.
St Wilfrid’s School pupils Oliver Colbran, Brooke Hill and Vienna Cooper’s design for a container to be used in space won them the CGG Prize for Mathematics at the Big Bang Fair South East.
Astronaut Tim Peake said the result was fantastic on Twitter and ‘favourited’ their school’s tweet celebrating the prize earlier this month.
The teenagers have said in a statement: “Although we had aimed high, we were nonetheless delighted with our award.
“Perhaps the icing on the cake was that we received acclaim via twitter from Tim Peake, a British Astronaut and test pilot who is preparing for an expedition to the International Space Station in December.”
The Big Bang Fair was an annual celebration of science and engineering, part of (Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) STEMSussex.
Thousands of students and teachers attended the event on June 30 at the South of England Showground near Ardingly.
The pupils conducted experiments and presented mathematical calculations supporting their space container design for the maths competition.
They created a hexagonal prism with internal foam insulation. It was designed so it could connect to other containers of the same shape while saving space.
Their statement said: “The process of coming up with a concept for the project was perhaps the most challenging part of the process for us, as we wanted to do something which would make us unique – more than just a glorified box.
“We decided that its purpose should be to insulate food and liquids, so we came up with the idea of a hexagonal prism shaped flask that could be connected to other containers of the same shape in order to lower the surface-area-to-volume ratio.”
They used foam as insulation after carrying out experiments and research.
The team presented their work along with a ‘comical advert’ to promote its uses in a bid to win over judges at the event. The poster featured their friend, Emilia Zelewicz, posing as an American scientist at the International Space Station.
The statement added: “At the competition itself, we presented our idea, work and advert to the judges, who questioned us rigorously.
“It was a fantastic experience to be able to converse to professional and respected scientists, including an employee of the BBC!
“We were also very impressed by the projects of other schools, who worked very hard to much avail. The standard was incredibly high.
“We feel that this experience has been beneficial to our learning in so many ways: using maths and science in a real world context; completing our own experiments from which we would actually use the results and working independently and in a group to synthesise a product.”
Tim Peake, 43, went to Chichester High School for Boys and is a former soldier and fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society.
He is based at the European Space Agency’s Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany, training for a long-duration flight to the International Space Station to be launched at the end of November.
He is an ambassador for UK Science and space-based careers and promotes science and engineering as career possibilities for school pupils and students.
He will become the first British ESA astronaut to visit the space station.
CCG, a Crawley-based world leading geophysical company, was the main sponsor for this year’s Crawley STEMfest and Big Bang Fair South East.
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