HASSE inspires students into STEM

On December 9th 2017, I joined many other girls from schools across NSW, to depart from Sydney Airport to fly to Houston Texas. We were part of the Houston Association for Space and Science Education (HASSE) Senior Space Program, and arrived in Houston on the 10th of December to start classes for a week at the Johnson Space Centre. This week of activities focussed on life in Space. Week two of the HASSE experience began with the X Prize presentation (17th December), where we all worked in teams of five.

Eliza at space school! [Image: T Turner-Jones]
Our team’s name was based on the Phoenix Mars Mission, so we called our team the ‘Golden Phoenix’. The overarching goal of working together was to achieve the objective to launch a rocket from Earth to the Moon where a lander would go from the rocket to the surface of the Moon and drop a rover. This rover needed to be calibrated to travel 500 metres, take HD imaging and then send these images back to Earth control.

Our team made slides for our presentation on: the proposed plan, the rocket and momentum of rocket, satellites setup, HD camera set up, autonomous mode of rover itself, budget in terms of materials, expenses, sponsors, our proposal, then also the lander design, rover design, risk assessment, legal implications and the impacts to society. This is just an overview of the actual information and the order to the presentation, but we really enjoyed the designing behind the project and scientific methodologies needed for the success of the endeavour and our team’s presentation.

We also designed our rover on Fusion 360, where this was then printed in 3D; however, due to time constraints, this printing did not happen in time for our presentation. We won the initial presentation for NSW schools, and then progressed to the next presentation (19th December). Here, we competed against schools across Australia, who were participating in the HASSE program and had won their respective presentations just like us. ACT was represented by a school from Canberra, and the State of Western Australia, by a school from Perth. This presentation was in front of a panel of judges: an architect who designed buildings in Moscow and a pilot who had participated in Space Missions. Our ‘Golden Phoenix’ team came out of this X Prize presentation as winners, and we were presented with a gold medal for achievement.

This was truly one of the most rewarding and inspiring experiences of my life so far, not only in working together with my new found friends from other schools across Sydney, but because I had an authentic and motivating involvement with STEM, an area in which I hope to make a career as I move into tertiary education in 2019.

Eliza 2Authored by Eliza Jones, a Year 12 student at Marist Sisters’ College in Woolwich, NSW. The HASSE Senior Space Program was offered through the Alliance of Girls Schools Australia, Senior Expedition.

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