The Andy Thomas Space Foundation (ATSF) has kick-started two programs for South Australian primary and high schools, introducing students to the excitement of space science and technology in the classroom.

Piloted in 2021, the Mercury and Mars programs are now part of the Foundation’s 2022 Education Fund. While similar in purpose and goals, the two programs approach space innovation and education in unique and interactive ways.

ATSF Chair, Michael Davis AO, said the programs offer unique approaches to inspiring young students to pursue STEM studies.

“Space-related projects are a wonderful source of inspiration for students, and they also assist to shape tomorrows space workforce,” he said.

Supported by the SmartSat CRC and Adelaide-based technology company, Makers Empire, the Mercury program utilises design challenges to expose students to space innovation, with the assistance of 3D printing and app-supported development resources.

CEO of Makers Empire Jon Soong said the company was thrilled to collaborate on the program.

“Being part of this program has helped young students develop an interest in space, engage in STEM learning connected to real-world problem-solving and gain an understanding of some of the pathways to a career in space,” he said.

Coordinated by Hamilton Secondary College, the 2022 Mars program will see eight secondary schools across the state participating in the Andy Thomas Space Foundation’s Schools Challenge, using the Aldrin Foundation’s Giant Mars Map to engage students in a deeper understanding of space travel – the purpose, the challenges and the risks.

Principal of Hamilton Secondary College Peta Kourbelis said the program was a great way to inspire students towards a career in space.

“We are excited to see that the range of projects proposed by schools are increasingly innovative,” she said. “Also, more rural schools are involved, allowing students from throughout South Australia to find out about the amazing opportunities and careers available in the rapidly expanding space sector.”

The Mars and Mercury programs are two of the nine educational scholarship and award opportunities on offer from the ATSF in 2022.

Foundation CEO, Nicola Sasanelli AM said the organisation had made great strides in advancing space education and outreach across Australia – igniting a curiosity for space.

“In its first two years the Education Fund has facilitated extraordinary learning experiences for more than 150 students across the nation, identifying pathways for students interested in and passionate about the Australian space industry,” he said.

Read more about the Andy Thomas Space Foundation Education Fund 2022