Mission Discovery, a five-day Space and STEAM challenge, is coming to a number of cities around Australia in 2019 and 2020. The program will be delivered by the International Space School Education Trust (ISSET) with a NASA astronaut and a NASA senior manager. Students across Australia in years 7 to 10 will work in teams to develop science experiments beneficial to the future of space flight with the winning team’s experiment will be launched into space and tested aboard the International Space Station (ISS) by the on-board astronauts within 2 years of the program.
The Mission Discovery program aims to spark passion, perseverance and engagement in science, technology, engineering, arts/design and maths (STEAM) subjects in Australia.
Sarah Murray, NASA’s deputy of Orion vehicle systems performance and analysis says "Mission Discovery allows Aussie teens to be exposed to astronauts, NASA personnel and scientists. We focus on skills that these students will need throughout their lives".
With the number of students focussing on STEAM subjects falling year on year, it’s estimated that by 2020, Australia’s digital tech sector is expected to require an additional 700,000 information and communications technology workers. Women currently make up less than 20% of Australia’s digital tech sector.
It's hoped that this program, and others like it will encourage broader uptake of STEAM subjects.
The program will run in Sydney, Adelaide, Newcastle, Perth and Melbourne in the next 18 months. Registrations are now open, and limited scholarships are available to encourage participation from teenagers who otherwise may be unable to attend.
Sara, a 17-year old student who took part in the project said "Its been one of the best things I’ve ever done, you make so many lifelong friends who have really similar interests to you. It really is an amazing opportunity, and something like this doesn’t come along very often, when it does, you really need to go for it".