A group of Limerick secondary school students has proved that the sky is not necessarily the limit for their ambitions after winning a competition to design a satellite which could be sent into space.
Chris Kelly, Tayyaba Sheik, Hugh Fitzgibbon, and Niall Keating from Crescent College Comprehensive in Limerick beat off competition from five other teams to win the final of the 2014 ESERO Ireland-CEIA CanSat competition at Birr Castle in Co Offaly.
The teams had been given the mission of creating a CanSat — a simulation of a real satellite which fits into the volume of a soft drinks can.
After toiling away on their designs with help from mentors in the Dublin, Cork and Galway- Mayo Institutes of Technology, yesterday the teams launched their CanSats using a quadcopter and rocket built by Rocketry Ireland.
For the primary mission, the CanSat had to capture air temperature and atmospheric pressure data on ascent and descent. The secondary mission required students to use a GPS module to track the CanSat position and measure wind shear and air humidity and measure the rotation and acceleration in three dimensions.
That test also compared the thermal insulating properties of different surfaces and materials with a view to designing high-altitude clothing.
The data collected was then presented to a panel of judges. The team from Crescent College Comprehensive now goes on to represent Ireland at the European CanSat final in Andoya, Norway in June.
Stephanie O’Neill, European Space Education Resource Office Ireland, said: “The CanSat competition offers hands-on practical experience of the possibilities of space and exploration.
“The European Space Education Resource Office Ireland’s ambition, with the assistance of the European Space Agency, is to engage secondary school students in science, technology, engineering and maths subjects by participating in projects such as CanSat and thus realising the accessibility of science, technology, engineering and maths careers, including the space sector, in Ireland and abroad.”
Ms O’Neill said there are tangible benefits to the competition.
“Students are developing core skills required by the numerous Irish companies currently thriving in the space sector,” she said.
“The interest in the competition from schools this year is indicative of the growing national interest in science, technology, engineering and maths subject initiatives and careers.
“I congratulate all the teams on taking part and I wish the team from Crescent College Comprehensive the best of luck as they represent Ireland at the European final.”
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