Students won funding to develop satellite-based apps helping to benefit our economy, health or the environment through the SatelLife Challenge.

Cornish students win £12,500 in national space challenge

Students from two local Cornish schools are celebrating after picking up high profile prizes from the UK Space Agency's SatelLife Challenge. Now in its second year, SatelLife Challenge aims to support the development of science, data handling and technological skills. Winners of the national challenge could win a share of the £50,000 on offer for themselves and also be invited to present their ideas at the UK Space Agency headquarters.

The challenge asked students to generate ideas on how satellites can be used to benefit our economy, health or the environment. The challenge was promoted locally by the Enterprise Adviser Network, a Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) funded project which aims to bridge the gap of knowledge between education and employment. They worked collaboratively with a wide range of space specialist organisations in Cornwall.

Cathrine Armour, Director of the South West Centre of Excellence in Satellite Applications, and Dr Kat Hickey, Business Development and Training Manager at Goonhilly Earth Station, gave each participating local school a briefing on how satellites are currently used. They aimed to inspire students to think outside the box.

The students then had two weeks to create their initial ideas before presenting in front of a specialist judging panel including representatives from Aerospace Cornwall and Avanti Communications.

Cathrine Armour said: "the students were really engaged. When we carried out the initial presentations we had some great questions and thought some of the initial ideas were excellent; we just didn't know how excellent! Raising aspirations for young people across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly is essential to their future. Achieving a first and second in their age group nationally will not only encourage their own ambitions, but also inspire others."

The Roseland School's Ella Richards, Eleanor Champion and Maddie Harvey, all aged 13, won £5000 for their team idea 'Illness Tracker'. The app aims to allow users to map and model the spread of infectious diseases worldwide.

Anna Mankee-Williams, Senior Research Fellow in Health and Care at Falmouth University, said: "Not only is this a vitally important area within healthcare in the UK, but also worldwide. It is a great example of the perception and power of young people in the creative design of solutions using satellite technology that has global significance in healthcare."

The national prize for best project in the 11-16 age group was awarded to Richard Lander's Ellie Jones, 15, Jessica Knight, 15, Summer Jeffery, 14, and Emily Hadderell, 14. Their 'Surf Safe' solution is a wristband which uses satellite location and data technology to keep sea users safe. They were awarded £7500 in funding to develop the app.

Ellie said: "it was so exciting, finding out about the competition. We had never done anything at all like this before. As students living in Cornwall, the sea has always been important to us and from the very start we knew we wanted to do something involving the beach.

"This whole experience has been amazing; we really enjoyed having the opportunity to do something like this. It has definitely given us the confidence to pursue STEM careers."

David Pollard from the Enterprise Adviser Network, who promoted the competition locally, said: "the whole challenge has been a huge success. The Cornish space sector has worked together to enhance this competition and the hard work has paid off.

"The ideas generated from students were fantastic and show there is an appetite and ability for students locally to get involved in the space sector. A sector that will hopefully be a lot larger in the future with the potential of the spaceport and the LEP's focus on space. Well done to all the students who entered."

Date: 13 April 2018

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