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Limerick students to represent Ireland in physics competition

Up, up and away: Hugh Fitzgibbon, Evan Maloney, Niall Keating, Tayyaba Sheikh, and Chris Kelly, from Crescent College with the Air Corps helicopter waiting in the background this Wednesday. Picture: Michael Cowhey

Up, up and away: Hugh Fitzgibbon, Evan Maloney, Niall Keating, Tayyaba Sheikh, and Chris Kelly, from Crescent College with the Air Corps helicopter waiting in the background this Wednesday. Picture: Michael Cowhey

LIMERICK students who deftly managed to construct a satellite within the parameters of a soft drinks can will represent Ireland in a European competition in Norway this month.

The team from the Crescent College Comprehensive, who beat off stiff competition from schools across the country, consists of fifth year students Niall Keating, Chris Kelly, Tayyaba Sheikh, Evan Moloney, Hugh Fitzgibbon and their teachers Anne O’Dea and Frank Murphy.

The next stage of the competition is the European final which takes place at the Andøya Rocket Range in Norway.

Sixteen national teams will attend the final – one from each member state of the European Space Agency.

During the final, each CanSat will undergo flight checks and electrical examinations before they are launched to 1km off the Earth’s surface by a rocket. Each team will then analyse the data received wirelessly and present to a panel of experts from across Europe.

As part of testing their sensors, an AirCorps helicopter landed on the grounds of Crescent College this Wednesday, with over 150 onlookers enjoying the spectacle as the helicopter took off with ‘Candroid’s’ sensors on board.

Teacher Frank Murphy said the competition has provided their students with “an excellent opportunity to get practical experience in the design of complex systems that has its place firmly in the hi-tech sector”.

As well as physics, public outreach is also a very important part of the competition and ‘Candroid’ have some ideas to eradicate the stereotypical view of physics as “boring” and “too difficult”.

“We have enjoyed every minute of this exciting project and we really hope that younger students in our school will be encouraged to study science subjects and even pursue a career in science/ engineering as a result of our outreach programme,” said Hugh Fitzgibbon, public outreach co-ordinator and ‘Candroid’ team member.

He continued: “As well as being educational, we hope that ‘Candroid’ will be viewed as an interesting and fun way of learning about physics.”

Entering the competition under the team name ‘Candroid’, their entry won the national ESERO Ireland –CEIA CanSat competition.

CanSat is a competition organised by the European Space Agency, which aims to promote physics, space science and engineering amongst European teenagers.

The competition requires students to construct a satellite within the parameters of a soft drinks can. This involves coding sensors, constructing the can, wiring up all the sensors, and building a parachute, amongst other tasks.

Every team must meet a primary and secondary mission. ‘Candroid’s’ primary mission included a thermistor (air temperature sensor) and a pressure sensor, while their secondary mission included a GPS, a buzzer, a humidity sensor (to test for water vapour), a magnetometer (to examine variations in the magnetic field strength with altitude) and an ultrasonic sensor which will look into the current issue of space debris.

For further information on Candroid’s activities, see @CansatCCC on Twitter, on Facebook (CCC Cansat) or www.cccsjcansat.blogspot.ie

 

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