Shirebrook Academy hosts space-age competition

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Students from Shirebrook Academy put their language and science skills to the test to build a space hotel at the first round of a national competition.

The International Space Challenge took place at the school, in Common Lane, with 58 pupils in groups competing to get through to the next round.

Two groups were crowned the joint winners and will go through to the regional finals, which are also being held at the academy in December.

The groups all had to come up with the design of a hotel - but one that could survive in space and that had a place for visiting space rockets to dock.

All 10 groups had to come in on budget too, with 50,000 euros to spend.

And to complicate matters further, students had to speak in French for the majority of the time – for everything from ordering the materials and talking to their colleagues.

James Edwards, acting head of modern foreign languages at the school, said “All 58 youngsters were chosen by staff because of their strengths in science, maths or languages to help build their vocabulary and confidence within the subjects.

“The technical language isn’t something that’s taught as standard so they all did really well. We had a couple of prep days to get them up to speed a little more but it was a very difficult task.”

The hotels the groups designed all had to be suitable for lower orbit and the restraints that keep it there also had to be carefully thought through.

Sustainability was a big question that they had to consider too, along with waste disposals and water supply.

The hotel models were built from everyday school materials - cereal boxes, cotton wool balls, ping pong balls – but they had to order them all in French, which was the language of the day.

Mr Edwards added: “They all did amazingly well, and stuck to speaking French throughout the whole day.

“The judges were very complimentary and impressed with the effort that the students put in to the whole event.”

PICTURED: Students working with staff on their projects (top) and the two winning groups.