Confidence boost as student experiment blasts into space

The Future Space Program will send a student’s algae experiment to bloom in space at the International Space Station. Sophie Lambert reports.

Students from six western Sydney schools are participating in the Future Space Program.

Students from six western Sydney public schools have been building self-confidence while collaborating to find out what it’s like to work in space.

Year 10 student Jewen Loh from Seven Hills High School has this year designed a mission patch of algae as part of the Future Space Program, which has been selected for launch at the International Space Station.

Carissa Howell, Seven Hills High head teacher Wellbeing and STEM coordinator, said the Future Space Program had been an amazing experience for students with surprising results.

“While it has been surreal for the students to meet astronauts and other people with amazing careers, it's the personal growth and insight that the students have gained which has really had the biggest impact,” Ms Howell said.

“We have found that students have gained a better understanding of science and also developed transferrable skills and the self-assurance to be leaders while presenting their ideas with confidence.

“Jewen and Jasmine [Holland] who joined the program are great examples of this. Before this program, neither would have had the confidence to stand up in front of people, let alone hundreds of people to present their ideas or lead a team.”

The program gave the Year 10 students the confidence and skills to apply for school leadership positions, with Jasmine now the school captain and Jewen the vice-captain.

The Future Space Program, running for the past three years, is a collaboration between the Powerhouse Museum, and the NSW Department of Education. The program provides a unique opportunity to learn about microgravity, biology, chemistry and physics to students from Seven Hills High, Casula High, Hurlstone Agricultural High, Arthur Phillip High, Bankstown Girls High and East Hills Girls Technology High.

Jewen said she was extremely pleased that her patch of algae had been selected to be launched into space and was now interested in pursuing a career in space.

“When my design was chosen for the Future Space Program, I felt really happy and surprised. It took a long time to create it and to have it selected feels unreal and surreal – it’s great,” Jewen said.

“There’s not a lot of women working in space. I want girls to realise that there is a chance for them to have a career in space and that anything is possible.”

Four students in a classroom posing for a photo. Four students in a classroom posing for a photo.
Image: Jayden Prakash (Wyndham College), Jasmine Holland (Seven Hills High School), Ryan Mills (Wyndham College) and Jewen Loh (Seven Hills High School) were among the students involved in the Future Space Program at Seven Hills High School.
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