Wednesday, January 24, 2018

NorthGate wins global Cubes in Space award


WINNERS: Front (L-R): Yoland La Pierre (College director), Charise Laveau, Shanade Ali, Chaela Wooding, Jenae Edwards, Shaniah Rudden, Jeanelle Looby (teacher), Middle: (L-R) James Mohammed, Ethan Wilson, Nicholas Maharaj, Phillip Janes, Brian Ripoll, Arendel Owen. Back (L-R): Zachary Joel, Daniel Harper, Sebastian Rudden, Conrad Taitt, Brandon Wooding, Deron Khelawan, Ruth Rudden (teacher)

Mark Fraser

 You wouldn’t normally expect to hear a conversation about “ionisation in the earth’s atmosphere” happening between a group of 12 - 14-year-old youngsters. But that conversation is exactly what led enterprising youth from this country to the top prize in the Cubes In Space global contest.

Seven pupils from NorthGate College, captured the 2014 Cubes In Space MPAC Group Top Design Award, for a science experiment that will be launched into space on June 26, a statement from NorthGate said.

One member of the team, Deron Khelawan, 13, explained, “The Ionisation Investigation seeks to measure the extent to which an electromagnetic field is generated as the payload moves through the ionosphere.”

Their creative idea impressed a global panel of judges that included some of the finest minds in the aerospace industry. “The quality of thought and depth of understanding of the science behind their experiment far exceeded most of what was submitted to us by other schools and countries. 

“The NASA engineers to whom we have shown the proposal and video were utterly impressed and astounded that the application was submitted by middle-school aged students,” said Amber Agee-DeHart, founder of the Cubes In Space programme.

The Cubes In Space programme is a partnership between Rubik Learning Initiative, idoodlesoftwareinc., the Colorado Space Grant Consortium’s RockSat-C programme and supported by the Sounding Rocket Programme Office at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in the United States.

Yolande La Pierre, director at the St Augustine-based secondary school was elated when she received news of the award.  “This achievement is a real testament to the potential that lives within our children.  It means a lot for us and for our education system to see their creativity, determination and teamwork rewarded in this way.

In a male-dominated science world, La Pierre was quick to point that there were six girls in the winning NorthGate team. 

One of them, 12-year-old Chaela Wooding said. “Our project was a lot of fun, but we had to quickly learn about space and how it relates to our ordinary classes.  It was a lot of hard work for us, but we were able to get it all done in time. Now we’re all waiting to see what will happen when our cube actually goes into space.”

NorthGate is an education initiative of Congress WBN, a global non-profit led by Dr Noel Woodroffe, with operations in over 85 countries.  The school, which started in Trinidad in 1999, now has centres in Jamaica, Kenya and Zambia and soon will shape more young minds for the 21st century with new centres in Nigeria and New Zealand.

Team member Zachary Joel captured this international outlook of the school, saying, “Our teachers always tell us we are global and borderless. With this project I learned we can be borderless inside of a 4cm cube.”

“Nurturing the young minds of the future with programmes like Cubes In Space helps build the business and scientific leaders of tomorrow,” said Nicholas Andrews, managing director of The MPAC Group, London, sponsor of the Cubes in Space Top Design Award.

And what an impact they are already making. The NorthGate College experiment along with the other designs from around the world will be launched into space via sounding rocket from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, VA on June 26.