HNC’s Science department was recently joined by the Space Science Engineering Foundation (SSEF) to host a challenge that was ‘out of this world’, to inspire pupils from Holmfirth, Salendine Nook and Upper Batley to consider a career in a STEM related field.

SSEF is a registered charity whose mission is to ensure that school aged children from across the UK have the opportunity to develop their skills and confidence through a range of engaging and exciting space related challenges. We were recently joined by the team from the SSEF to host one of the charity’s flagship programmes, the Galactic Challenge. This is a challenge that sees groups of students tasked with responding to a proposal, organising themselves into teams and working together to deliver a presentation, and then pitting themselves against other teams in order to win a hypothetical space-related contract.

The HNC Galactic Challenge tasked two teams of Year 7 and 8 students from three local schools to propose a design of a ‘Low Earth Orbit’ development settlement, specialising in communications and artificial intelligence. On the day, the teams had 4 hours to design a space settlement that not only met the technological brief provided, but also meet the needs of the 500-700 residents of the proposed development. From deciding on materials and technology to creating a sustainable business plan and designing a company logo, the teams had to explore a wide variety of factors, ensuring that they created a proposal that fully answered the brief, and creating a presentation that showcased their ideas so that they could bring their plans to life in the hope of winning the contract.

The two teams, named Astrodyne Delta and Solaris Flight Systems, worked throughout the day to design a state-of-the-art space settlement, with sub teams working on different areas such as design, technology, finance, and operations, supported by volunteers from the SSEF, the Department for Transport, teachers and student ambassadors. Throughout the session, sub teams came together to discuss their progress, pulling their ideas together on a presentation against a strict deadline. Teams were then allocated a ten-minute presentation slot in which to win over the judges and therefore win the hypothetical contract.

At the end of the challenge, the teams took turns to present their ideas to a panel of six judges, who followed the presentations with a round of robust questioning. The judges were incredibly impressed with both teams who had worked hard on the day to develop their designs, with the final scores at the end of the challenge being close. Astrodyne Delta just pipped Solaris Flight Systems to the post, with the judges agreeing that the final presentation from the team was well delivered, with the team paying special attention to the Artificial Intelligence element of the brief.

Chris Smith, Faculty Lead Enrich Maths and Science, comments “what a fantastic event to host at HNC! The SSEF’s Galactic Challenge is a nationally renowned programme that inspires school children from across the UK to develop a passion for all things STEM. I am incredibly impressed by the ideas that the two teams developed during the session, and the judges really enjoyed hearing more about the unique designs the two teams proposed. The SSEF plays an important role in developing a passion for science in school aged children across the country, and I am delighted that we were able to work together to bring this opportunity to our local community. Thank you to Holmfirth, Salendine Nook and Upper Batley for bringing their teams – I am genuinely impressed by the maturity, enthusiasm, and hard work the teams brought to the challenge and I am sure that many of them have exciting careers in space science ahead of them. I look forward to hosting another Galactic Challenge in the near future!”

The Galactic Challenge is just one example of how we work with our partner schools and the local community to deliver a range of educational initiatives for students aged 11-16. If you would like to find out more about how we can support your school in the future, please contact news@huddnewcoll.ac.uk

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