From Western Sydney to the International Space Station

Powerhouse program launches students into orbit.
Apr 5, 2022
Program aligns students with aerospace careers.

A space-based virtual and real-world learning experience will connect Western Sydney high school students with the International Space Station.

Through a collaboration between the Powerhouse, and the NSW Department of Education, students will utilise NASA-inspired design thinking techniques to prepare an actual space mission on the International Space Station.

The Powerhouse: Future Space program connects Stage 5 students (Years 9 and 10) from six Western Sydney local government areas to a global network of learners through the ExoLab-10 mission.

The 2022 mission ‘Carbon Farmer’ uses scientific enquiry to teach students about the importance of the carbon cycle on Earth and in space. Students will become climate change solutionaries by experimenting with growing alfalfa in the classroom. By conducting their own ground trials in line with an active experiment on board the International Space Station they can compare data on effective methods for growing crops in microgravity to sustain future space missions and help filter carbon dioxide from the air for astronauts on long space flights.

Powerhouse: Future Space will be delivered in tandem with the Powerhouse: Design For Space Challenge as part of the newly developed newly developed iSTEM Department Approved Elective.

Throughout the three-year program, high schools across NSW will have the opportunity to design and produce their own prototype ExoLab device, simulating a space mission to the International Space Station. The most successful prototype will be launched as early as 2024. Maitland Grossmann High School and Murrumbidgee Regional High School will be involved in a virtual pilot of the program.

“The Parramatta Future Space program provides a unique opportunity for students to be inspired through the prism of space. The NSW Department of Education, Powerhouse Museum and teams have established an innovative partnership that harnesses the strengths of each institution to deliver a truly world-class STEM program. Through this program, students will access ground-breaking technologies, stimulating curriculum, and a global team of scientists, engineers, educators, and entrepreneurs.

“Ultimately, we hope graduates will be leaders amongst of the 20,000 space jobs estimated to be created by 2030,” said STEM Project Advisor 7-12 NSW Department of Education, Dr Scott Sleap.

The Powerhouse: Future Space program is the first to roll-out in high schools under the auspices of the Powerhouse Parramatta Lang Walker Family Academy, made possible by the Walker Family Foundation’s $20 million gift announced in 2021.