During June and July 2023, the Makers Empire team was busy criss-crossing Australia to deliver Kids in Space showcase events in every state and territory. Sponsored by the Andy Thomas Space Foundation and the Australian Space Agency, Kids in Space delivers a pioneering space education program to 70 primary schools, 10,000 students and around 200 teachers across Australia. In 2023, almost 500 teachers across Australia applied to be part of this program, showing the strong demand and need for this kind of schools industry program.
Kids in Space 2023 began with professional development days in each state and territory in February so that teachers could hear from guest speakers from the space industry, and receive training from Makers Empire experts on Design Thinking, Makers Empire’s 3D design tools, solving space-related problems, and 3D printing.
The Kids in Space showcase events in June and July 2023 were designed for schools to come together to share and celebrate their learning, to view a specially recorded message from Australian astronaut, Andy Thomas, and to listen to some invited guest speakers from the space industry. Each school also prepared an expo style booth displaying their projects and designs, which was in the running for one of two prizes: 1) the state winner, awarded by the judges; and 2) the peer award, as voted on by their fellow students.
During the course of the event, students both presented their projects to booth visitors and also visited other booths. As they visited each booth, students were tasked with either asking a question or delivering some helpful feedback and receive a stamp in a provided passport for their efforts. They also had to decide which of the other booths they wanted to award one of their three tickets for the student-voted peer prize.
Whilst students were busy sharing their learning with each other, our invited judges were visiting each booth and assessing the students’ projects against a long checklist. With a trip to Adelaide to compete in the national Kids in Space showcase at the Australian Space Discovery Centre in October for the winning team in each state and territory at stake, emotions were running high! At each event the judges were blown away by the students’ solutions to space-themed problems, and how articulately they presented their solutions.
We asked participating teachers to describe the projects their students’ presented at the showcase days:
See highlights and the winners from the showcase events in each state and territory:
QLD Kids in Space Showcase | Griffith University
The 8 Queensland (QLD) schools participating in Kids in Space — Worongary State School; Pimpama State School; Bellevue Park State School; Upper Coomera State College; Kelvin Grove State College; Emu Creek State School; Hillcrest Christian College; Our Lady of the Rosary School — came together on Tuesday 13th June for a Showcase at Griffith University on the Gold Coast.
The judges were Anita Hazell, STEM Outreach Manager, Griffith University, Sybilla Wilson, State Representative, Australian Space Discovery Centre and Rachel Junge, Senior Events & Communications Officer, Australian Space Agency.
Guest speakers were Anita Hazell, STEM Outreach Manager, Griffith University, and Keegan Buzza, Acting Director of Communications and Public Outreach, Australian Space Agency.
Our Lady of the Rosary School was judged the Queensland state winner with their designs and models of life support systems needed for survival as part of a scenario where an asteroid collided with the moon. Congratulations also to Kelvin Grove State School, which took out the student-voted peer prize.
Thanks to Griffith University, our esteemed judges and speakers, Angela Hillsdon and Yvette Baxter, and Channel 9 News and Channel 7 News for their awesome coverage.
@7newsq These Sunshine Coast students have taken out the Andy Thomas Space Foundation 'Kids in Space' challenge - and are now preparing to blast off to Adelaide. #Space #Cute #Kids #PrimarySchool #KidsinSTEM #KidsinSTEAM #Queensland #Qld #SunshineCoast #SunnyCoast #Caloundra #7NEWS ♬ original sound - 7NEWS Queensland
NT Kids in Space Showcase | The Essington School
The 7 Northern Territory (NT) schools participating in Kids in Space — Nganambala School; Gunbalanya School; Manunda Terrace Primary School; The Essington School; Bees Creek Primary School; Driver Primary School; Berry Springs Primary School — came together on Thursday 15th June for a showcase at The Essington School, Rapid Creek.
The judges were Darcey Watson, Executive Officer, Andy Thomas Space Foundation, Justine Small, Senior Teacher, NT Department for Education, and Emily White, Senior Project Officer – Industry Strategy, NT Department of Tourism and Trade.
Gunbalanya School was awarded NT state winner by the guest judges for creating an artefact to monitor the tides and local flooding and determine the best time for hunting and gathering, combining traditional systems of astronomical knowledge and modern technologies, whilst Essington School was awarded the student-voted peer prize for their solutions to create and sustain life on Mars. Congratulations to both schools!!
Asked what worked well, a student from Nganambala Primary School commented, “student engagement was #1. It was great socialising between schools who rarely meet each other.”
Thanks to The Essington School (who created an awesome video below), our esteemed judges and the ABC for running three fantastic stories on ABC New TV, BTN TV and ABC News.
NSW Kids in Space Showcase: Optus HQ
The 8 New South Wales (NSW) schools participating in Kids in Space — Trundle Central School; Elanora Heights Public School; Otford Public School; Carlingford West Public School; Kent Road Public School; St George Christian School; St Anthony of Padua Catholic College; St Aidan’s Primary School — came together for a showcase on Friday 23rd June at Optus, Macquarie Park.
The judges were Mellodee Anvia, Assistant Director, Australian Space Discovery Centre, Annie Handmer, Satellite Policy and Industry Engagement Manager, Optus, and Lisa Wahab, Head of Education Strategy, NextSense Education.
Guest speakers were Annie Handmer, Satellite Policy and Industry Engagement Manager, Optus, and Grace Portolesi, Executive Director of the Andy Thomas Space Foundation.
The winner of the NSW showcase day was Kent Road Public School for their solutions to provide shelter for wildlife whose habitat has been impacted by bushfires. Congratulations, we will see you in Adelaide for the national competition! Congratulations also to Trundle Central School for winning the Optus Space Ambassadors’ Choice Award, and St George Christian School for winning the peer-voted award for their exploration of how adaptions enable organism to survive in their environment.
Asked what they liked most, a student from St George Christian School said, ‘”collaborating and working with other people, designing in Makers Empire and using our imagination.” Hear, hear!
Thanks to Optus and our esteemed judges and guest speakers.
Check out what one of our Optus hosts posted and announcements by two of the winning schools:
TAS Kids in Space Showcase | Taroona Primary School
The 8 Tasmanian (TAS) schools participating in Kids in Space — Dodges Ferry Primary School; Taroona Primary School; Glenora District School; Havenview Primary School; Peregrine School; Sacred Heart Catholic School; Calvin Christian School; Westbury Primary School — came together on Wednesday 28th June for a showcase at Taroona Primary School.
The judges were Patrick Yates-Jones, Satellite Tracking and Telescope Control Systems Researcher, University of Tasmania, Guifré Molera Calves, Space Scientist Physics Researcher, University of Tasmania, and Bron Hughes, State Representative, Australian Space Discovery Centre.
The guest speakers were Professor Simon Ellingsen, University of Tasmania, and Alistair Kay, Director, Regulatory Engagement, Australian Space Agency.
Congratulations to Dodges Ferry Primary School, who will be representing Tasmania at the National Showcase in Adelaide. They created solutions to help people live and work on the moon. Congratulations also to Taroona Primary School for winning the peer-selected award for their solutions to help people deal with space depression.
A student from Taroona Primary School commented, “it was very well organised and we loved the opportunity to share our ideas with a variety of people.”
Thanks to Taroona Primary School, our esteemed judges and speakers and WIN News TV and The Mercury for their great coverage of this event.
WA Kids in Space Showcase | SciTech
The 8 West Australian (WA) schools participating in Kids in Space — Cooinda Primary School; Settlers Primary School; Bindoon Primary School; Tammin Primary School; Gascoyne Junction Remote Community School; Santa Clara Primary School; St Munchin’s Catholic School; Bull Creek Primary School — came together on Friday 30th June for a showcase at SciTech, West Perth.
The judges and speakers were Evan Thyer, Programs Coordinator, SciTech, Darcey Watson, Executive Officer, Andy Thomas Space Foundation, and James Yuen, Director, Space, Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation.
Congratulations to the state winners, Santa Clara Primary School, who have won a trip to the Australian Space Discovery Centre in Adelaide to participate in the national showcase day in October. Congratulations also to Settlers Primary School, who took out the peer prize with their meteor detection system.
Asked what worked well at the showcase, a student from Bindoon Primary School commented, “talking to others and hearing their opinions on what would make our design better, and looking at other people’s designs.”
Thanks to SciTech, our special guest Stephen Dawson, Minister for Emergency Services; Innovation & the Digital Economy; Science; Medical Research; our esteemed judges and Astro Tourism WA for the great article.
SA Kids in Space Showcase | Lot Fourteen
The 8 SA schools participating in Kids in Space — Klemzig Primary School; Willunga Primary School; Swallowcliffe School; Warooka Primary School; Mundulla Primary School; Dara School; St Ignatius College; and Walford Anglican School for Girls — came together on Tuesday 4th July for a showcase at the Start Up Hub at Lot Fourteen. Students also had the opportunity to visit the Australian Space Discovery Centre next door during the event.
The guest speakers were Deputy Premier, Susan Close MP, Kerrie Dougherty OAM, Senior Heritage and Outreach officer with the Australian Space Agency’s Inspire program and Grace Portolesi, Executive Director of the Andy Thomas Space Foundation.
The judges were Catherine Grace, Director – Space, South Australian Space Industry Centre, Michael Davis AO, Chair, Andy Thomas Space Foundation, and Isabella McCulloch, Space Communicator, Australian Space Discovery Centre.
Congratulations to Warooka Primary School who took out the state prize with their designs to provide astronauts with a place to exercise, which is very important for maintaining health and bone density. They came up with the idea of a playground with exercise equipment using magnets and domes for equipment to work in microgravity. Congratulations also to Swallowcliffe School for winning the SA Peer Prize for their design of a tool that helps drill holes in the ice to help colonisation of Mars as voted on by students.
Thanks to Lot Fourteen, guest speakers, Deputy Premier Susan Close MP for her continued support, our esteemed judges, and ABC Radio, the Yorke Peninsula Country Times, the SA Space Industry Centre and Equatorial Launch Australia for their excellent coverage.
ACT Kids in Space Showcase | Hedley Beare Centre
The 8 Australian Capital Territory (ACT) schools participating in Kids in Space — Charnwood Dunlop School; Charles Conder Primary School; Kingsford Smith School; Gordon Primary School; Telopea Park School; Duffy Primary School; St Thomas Aquinas Primary School; St Francis of Assisi Primary School — came together on Wednesday 26th July for a showcase event at the Hedley Beare Centre.
The judges were Sascha Hapke, Head of AustralAsia, Airbus; Desislava Gancheva, Assistant Manager Space Strategy, Australian Space Agency; Todd Russell, Chief Engineer, KBR; and Anntonette Dailey, space expert and former COO, Australian Space Agency.
Guest speakers were Desislava Gancheva, Assistant Manager Space Strategy, Australian Space Agency, and Grace Portolesi, Executive Director of the Andy Thomas Space Foundation.
Congratulations to team 3 at Kingsford Smith School, who won the territory prize with their design of a team of robots to autonomously establish lunar bases. They will be joining us in Adelaide in October for the national showcase. Congratulations also to team 3 at Charnwood Dunlop School, who won the student-voted peer prize with their solution to help astronauts enjoy baths in space using artificial gravity and recycled water.
Thanks to the Hedley Beare Centre, our esteemed judges and guest speakers, and The Canberra Times, RiotACT and WIN News Canberra for their awesome articles, TV coverage and videos.
VIC Kids in Space | North Melbourne Primary School
The 8 Victorian (VIC) schools participating in Kids in Space — Inverleigh Primary School; Waubra Primary School; North Melbourne Primary School; Clifton Hill Primary School; Billanook Primary School; Catholic Regional College Caroline Springs; St Mary’s School Echuca; Shelford Girls’ Grammar — as well as 7 additional Victorian schools sponsored by the Melbourne Archdiocese Catholic Schools — St Columba’s College; Emmanuel College; St. Margaret’s Primary School Maribyrnong; St. Joseph’s Hawthorn; St. Joseph’s Crib Point Primary; Our Lady of Good Counsel School; Good Samaritan Primary School — came together on Friday 28th July at the North Melbourne Primary School to celebrate their learning.
The judges were Luke Phillips, Assistant Manager, International & Government Engagement, Australian Space Agency; Mark Gleeson, STEM Learning Specialist, VSSEC; Katarina Persic, Corporate Citizenship Manager, Toyota Community Trust; Paul Firth, Senior Policy & Project Officer, Victorian Education Department; Vedika Latchman-Singh, Business Development Manager, CSIRO; and Shelley Waldon, Science & STEM Lead at Melbourne Archdiocese Catholic Schools.
The guest speaker was Grace Portolesi, Executive Director of the Andy Thomas Space Foundation.
Congratulations to team 1 at Our Lady of Good Counsel for winning the state prize with their solutions to help astronauts grow fresh vegetables in space using hydroponics. We look forward to seeing you in Adelaide in October for the finals. Congratulations also to team 1 at St. Joseph’s School Hawthorn who won the peer prize with their Pepper’s Ghost Illusion design that would project a 3D hologram to help people in space communicate with their loved ones on earth.
Thanks to North Melbourne Primary School, our special guest speaker and our esteemed judges.
Feedback from Teachers
We asked participating teachers what they enjoyed most about being involved in Kids in Space 2023:
National Finals in October
The winning team from each state and territory will meet in Adelaide in October for the national Kids in Space showcase at the Australian Space Discovery Centre. There, one team will be announced as the overall national winner of Kids in Space 2023.