FOUR Limerick teenagers have achieved a notable first among Irish students as an experiment they have designed will be carried out in space.
St Nessan’s Community College transition year students Jason Hannon, Jonathan Roche, Kevin Hanley and Jamie O’Connell won a nationwide competition called “The Only Way is Up”.
Blasting off in May from NASA, the experiment will orbit the Earth for 30 days on the International Space Station.
The project is seeking to establish how reinforced concrete sets in space, compared to the same process on the ground.
The aim of the experiment is to discover if it possible to build in space.
A YouTube channel called Ireland’s First Secondary School Experiment in Space has been set up so the public can follow the project’s progress.
The winning experiment was selected by an international team of judges and for the first time ever will open up real space research to Limerick and Irish students.
According to IComp’s Dr Norah Patten the students did a great job and should be proud of their work.
“The creativity and thought process from the students was incredible,” she explained.
This small first step for the St Nessan’s students will encourage a giant leap forward for more Limerick and Irish students to enter the area of space research.
Dr Patten explained: “Space provides an ideal platform to foster interest and enthusiasm in young minds in Ireland. This project has allowed Irish students the opportunity to develop an actual space experiment and for the first time launch it to the space station.”
Dr Patten is the Communications and Outreach manager for the Irish Centre for Composites Research (IComp) at the University of Limerick.
Their Texas based partner NanoRacks are in the leading position in the emerging commercial market for the use of low-earth orbits.
“The Only Way is Up” is funded by Science Foundation Ireland Discover Science and Engineering, IComp and the Faculty of Science and Engineering at UL.
It is enabled through a partnership with NanoRacks LLC and is supported by the National Centre for Excellence in Maths and Science Teaching and Learning (NCE-MSTL) and the Materials and Surface Science Institute (MSSI).