Two sixth-form students are en route from the Isle of Man to Houston for a trip of a lifetime to attend NASA’s United Space School.
Caitlin Pinder from St Ninian’s High School and Kitto Maddrell from Castle Rushen High School won the annual ManSat scholarships for the two-week space school in Houston, Texas, which gets underway on Monday, July 28th.
Working in close cooperation with the Department of Education and Children, Isle of Man-based ManSat has been offering these scholarships since 2000.
Caitlin and Kitto will join students from 21 other countries at the school, and follow in the footsteps of last year’s recipients, Christopher Clarke-Halewood from Castle Rushen High School and Alex Eaton from Queen Elizabeth II High School.
ManSat Chief Executive Chris Stott explained: ‘It’s an international class, with around 45 students from countries as far afield as New Zealand, Russia and Bolivia, and it’s fantastic for the Island to have two representatives at the Space School.
‘Each year, the students bond with their peers and they do tend to stay in touch with each other, which means, if they intend – as so many of our previous scholarship winners have – to stay in this kind of business, however peripheral, they have a crucial advantage of having such a close group of contacts within this industry.’
The competition to win the scholarships is open to year 12 students at the DEC’s five high schools, with ManSat’s Finance Director Ian Jarritt visiting each of the schools each autumn to talk about the USS and launch the following year’s scholarship competition.
This year’s entrants had to write three short essays – each between 500 and 1,000 words – on the subjects:
1. How can Space be of service to humanity?
2. How can the Isle of Man play a greater role in international Space activities?
3. Why am I interested in Space?
Caitlin and Kitto will stay with US families connected with NASA during the two weeks, and will attend the Space School Culture Faire, at which all students are challenged to promote their homeland. This year, Caitlin and Kitto will be conjuring up a couple of batches of Manx bonnag to give their international peers a taste of the Isle of the Man.
Caitlin said: ‘I heard about the scholarships when Ian Jarritt from ManSat gave a presentation to our Year 12 last autumn. I’ve never been to the US, and one of the most exciting aspects is the chance to see what life is like there and also experience how NASA operates.
‘It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. I visited universities in England recently, and they all said what a fantastic addition the Space School trip is to have on your personal statement.’
Kitto said: ‘I heard about the scholarship from one of last year’s winners, Christopher. He told me what a wonderful experience he’d had, and that inspired me to enter this year’s competition.
‘What I’m looking forward to most is immersing myself in American culture. It’s a trip that could be life-changing; I’ve not yet decided what I want to do with my life, and so this could set me on a career path.’
Tim Crookall MHK, Minister for Education and Children, said: ‘The ManSat scholarships provide an incredible opportunity for Isle of Man students to attend NASA’s United Space School each year. I have watched presentations by previous recipients on their return from Houston and know just how much they benefit from the experience. The Department of Education and Children continues to work closely with ManSat and is grateful to Chris Stott for his efforts to raise awareness of opportunities within the space sector.’
In addition to the Space School scholarships, ManSat sponsors and supports the annual Spirit of Innovation competition for Manx high schools, in cooperation with the Pete Conrad Foundation, and earlier this year sponsored an Island high school to participate in the UK Rocketry Challenge. The company also awards an annual ‘ManSat Fellowship’ grant, for Manx students seeking to further their studies in space, and scholarships to programs run by the International Space University in Strasbourg.
Please visit www.unitedspaceschool.org for more information about the Space School and www.mansat.com for details of the company’s scholarships.