Andy Thomas Space Foundation and Makers Empire Provide Space Education Program to Eyre Peninsula Schools

The Andy Thomas Space Foundation and Makers Empire are delighted to celebrate the successful delivery of the Eyre Peninsula Space Explorers Project to 14 schools located on the Eyre Peninsula, South Australia. Running in terms 2-3, the Eyre Peninsula Space Explorers Project was a collaboration between the Andy Thomas Space Foundation and Makers Empire funded through the Australian Government’s Makers Projects – Community STEM Engagement grant.

The Eyre Peninsula Space Explorers Project utilised a collaborative and innovative educational methodology to ignite passion for space and STEM studies among rural and remote schools and their communities. This involved implementing a holistic strategy to raise awareness of potential STEM-related career pathways into the national space industry as well as other high-tech industry sectors. The project introduced an exciting space-related STEM curriculum to schools. It provided professional development for teachers, engagement with parents and local communication channels, and increased students’ understanding of space disciplines, career opportunities and pathways, and local space projects.

The participating schools were: Cleve Area School, Cowell Area School, Cummins Area School, Elliston Area School, Koonibba Aboriginal School, Lincoln Gardens Primary School, Navigator College, Penong Primary School, Poonindie Community Learning Centre, Port Neill Primary School, Streaky Bay Area School, Tumby Bay Area School, Ungarra Primary School, and Wudinna Area School.

The Space Explorers Program

During terms 2-3, 2023, participating teachers engaged in a customised version of Makers Empire’s Learning by Design course, which included a combination of a face-to-face training day and 3 live online sessions. The face-to-face professional learning day was held in both Port Lincoln and Streaky Bay to accommodate the breadth of schools engaged in the project across Eyre Peninsula.

The professional learning program was offered as a blend of three types of learning: experiential, social and formal. The face-to-face and online PD sessions were well received by participants with strong attendance and participation at these sessions. Space industry experts, including those from the Andy Thomas Space Foundation and Southern Launch, contributed to the professional learning program to help build teacher knowledge and industry connections. Makers Empire’s Hardware Specialist also provided 3D printer training at the PD days and offered online hardware support to participating schools across the Eyre Peninsula. Online support sessions, and a briefing session about the showcase event were also provided for participants in the months following the initial professional learning program.

A Challenge Course was also designed by Makers Empire, specifically for project participants. Challenge Courses are interactive, curriculum aligned learning experiences built into the Makers Empire 3D app. The Eyre Peninsula Space Explorers Challenge Course contains purpose-made video content related to the space industry and space technologies, with a particular focus on the Eyre Peninsula.  The Eyre Peninsula specific content was provided by Southern Launch, including archival footage and images, and live interviews with Southern Launch team members. 

Students respond to the video content through in-app quizzes and design tutorials. The Challenge Course concluded with a design thinking challenge which asks students to apply all they have learned to solve a space related problem:  Design something that could help astronauts to work and live in space or use space technologies to design something that will help solve a problem here on Earth.

Space-Inspired Solutions & Designs

At the end of October, students came together to celebrate and share their learning at two student-led showcases. The showcase events were held across the Eyre Peninsula in Tumby Bay on Thursday November 23rd (see photos above) and Streaky Bay on Friday November 24th (see photos below)

The showcase events were attended by 150 students, teachers, special guests from the space industry and education and representatives from the Andy Thomas Space Foundation and Makers Empire. 

Check out these examples of student projects created during this program:

After the showcase, students heard from guest speakers from the Andy Thomas Space Foundation, the Australian Space Agency and Southern Launch. 

Two awards were then presented at each showcase. An industry award was selected by space industry experts in attendance at the showcase. Students also voted on and selected a peer award winner.  The winning teams from each school received a 3D printed trophy. Congratulations to the winning schools.

Pt Lincoln Cluster:

  • Industry Award  – Cleve Area School
  • Peer Award – Poonindie Community Learning Centre

Streaky Bay Cluster:

  • Peer Award – Streaky Bay Area School
  • Industry Award – Elliston Area School

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