The Andy Thomas Space Foundation in partnership with the Australian Space Agency is proud to announce the 2023 Kids in Space national program. This Australian-first program will engage 65+ schools across each state and territory in a space themed, technology-based, design thinking project – delivered by Australian-owned and operated EduTech start-up, Makers Empire.
With over 3,000 primary students and 300 teachers involved, this innovative program will allow younger students to engage with the nation’s growing space ecosystem. Kids in Space will see participating schools each receive a 3D printer, along with access to a custom designed space-themed virtual challenge course comprising purposed-made videos, quizzes, tutorials, and Design Thinking challenges delivered via the popular Makers Empire 3D design app. Moreover, the program will provide certified professional development training for up to five teachers per school, allowing the learning to continue long into the future.
10 South Australian schools in a state pilot program recently came together at the Australian Space Discovery Centre to celebrate their learning and to launch 2023’s national program. Kids in Space was officially launched by The Hon. Ed Husic, Minister for Industry and Science, and The Hon. Susan Close, Deputy Premier of SA.
Participating schools were Karoonda Area School, Ungarra Primary School, St Michael’s College, Scotch College Adelaide, Emmaus Christian College, Marryatville Primary School, Bordertown Primary School, West Beach Primary School, Ngutu College and Cowandilla Primary School & Children’s Centre.
“The Andy Thomas Space Foundation engages with the entire spectrum of education, from primary school to early career researchers,” said Nicola Sasanelli, CEO for the Andy Thomas Space Foundation.
“This program aims to first introduce and seed space interest in young students, to ensure the longevity of their engagement in the knowledge economy.” With the active partnership of the Australian Space Agency, this proven program will now be available right across the nation, impacting students’ interest in STEM and STEM-related careers right from primary school.
Head of the Australian Space Agency Enrico Palermo said the Kids in Space program provided a great opportunity to inspire the next generation workforce, which is one of the foundational pillars of the Agency.
“Space is the gateway to STEM. This national program will stir the imagination of what is possible and get more young Australians to consider studying and working in STEM related careers,” Mr Palermo said.
“By exciting our young people and getting them to think bigger, we can ensure Australia has the diverse workforce it needs to realise our full potential not just in the space sector but across the broader economy as well.”
As part of the launch, each of the participating schools participated in an expo-style showcase where they could present their projects to each other, and learn more about each other’s work.
“We are delighted to partner with The Andy Thomas Space Foundation and the Australian Space Agency on this pioneering new education program,” says Jon Soong, CEO of Makers Empire.
“Research has shown that Makers Empire significantly improves STEM learning outcomes in primary students, so we are thrilled to be able to help more Australian teachers and schools build these important skills in their students. By delivering this engaging program to primary students, we hope to encourage more of them to seek out STEM subjects in middle and high school, thereby putting more students on a pathway to a future STEM career.”
As part of the launch activities, students were also able to explore the Australian Space Discovery Centre.
Finally, prizes were awarded to the most outstanding showcase projects. West Beach Primary School was the overall showcase winner, as voted on by the students, whilst Ngutu College was also recognised for their outstanding work, as chosen by the the Australian Space Agency’s space communicators.
As part of the 2023 Kids in Space program, schools in each state/territory will come together to celebrate their learning in a similar local state/territory showcase, allowing students to share their work, connect with others and be inspired by the creativity of their peers. As part of these state/territory showcases, one school will be selected to represent their state/territory in a national showcase hosted at the Australian Space Discovery Centre in Adelaide, in November 2023. A national challenge champion will then be announced.
Interested schools can learn more and register their interest.