Design win for Catie as major space event is held

Catie MacArthur, centre, with the other design competition winners and organisers.

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A pupil at Whiting Bay primary has won a £1,000 prize for her school after finishing runner-up in a design contest.

The competition was organised for Ayrshire and Arran primary schools to design a Mission Patch for Mission Discovery Ayrshire 2018 which is being held next month.

While the competition was won by eight-year-old Eilidh Cooke of Annanhill Primary School with her half-Mars, half-Earth design, Catie MacArthur, 11, of Whiting Bay school and Heather McRonald, 11, of Alloway primary School were the runners-up. All three of their schools will receive a prize of £1,000 to be used for STEM activities.

Mission Discovery, a week-long space school that gives Ayrshire and Arran youngsters the opportunity to work alongside NASA leaders, will take place from June 11 to 15 at Ayrshire College’s Kilmarnock Campus.

A total of 200 secondary school pupils will work in teams this summer to design space experiments. The winning idea will be sent to space where it will be tested by NASA astronauts.

The Mission Discovery programme first came to Ayrshire in 2016. The first winners created an experiment that looked at the speed of slime mould on different materials in space. Last year’s winners presented their idea that observes ‘the photosynthesis of phytoplankton in microgravity and the generation of electricity’. Both winning experiments were sent to the International Space Station.

This year, NASA astronaut Stephen Bowen – who has been on three spaceflights – will be involved in the Ayrshire programme for the first time. Visitors will have the chance to meet and have their photograph taken with the astronaut at a special evening event as part of the week.

Heather Dunk, principal of Ayrshire College, said: ‘We are thrilled that Mission Discovery will return to Ayrshire this summer. The programme is a tremendous experience for young people, giving them a once in a lifetime opportunity to work with an astronaut and NASA leaders on a live space project.’