Blackfriars wins Andy Thomas Space Foundation Showcase

A group of students has shown that when it comes to STEM at Blackfriars, the sky is not the limit.

Year 9 students Dan Shyjo, Alan Manoj, Ayush Kharel, Aaron Nguyen, Eli Scharfbillig and Hugh Caton, with teachers Matthew Wallace and Jak Francis, were last week part of the Andy Thomas Space Foundation Showcase, at the Australian Space Discovery Centre, at Lot 14.

Blackfriars beat eight other schools, each of which had earlier this year secured $4000 grants from the Andy Thomas Space Foundation, to take out the Space Communication Award.

The boys had used 3D CAD design, electronics and coding to build a prototype of a satellite which could collect and send data to a ground station.

Teacher Jak Francis and students, from left, Dan Shyjo, Eli Scharfbillig, Alan Manoj, Ayush Kharel, Aaron Nguyen and Hugh Caton at the Australian Space Discovery Centre, at Lot 14.

“The judging panel of industry experts gave the award to Blackfriars for the best overall display at the showcase,” Blackfriars Curriculum Leader – Science Duro Dobrijevic said.

“The boys had to explain to judges their roles in the overall project and communicate their learning journey this semester. They proved themselves to be outstanding representatives of the school.”

Hugh – who, along with the other students, is part of Blackfriars’ Ax Academy – is considering a career in astrophysics.

“The satellite project was a great introduction to the possibilities of a career in space,” Hugh said.

Mr Wallace said given South Australia’s burgeoning space industry, it was important secondary students had an appreciation of career options in the sector.

“They always talk about the brain drain from South Australia; the really good people get poached to the eastern states or internationally,” Mr Wallace said.

“But if we’ve got something that’s internationally competitive and got that sort of reputation, then kids from South Australia can aspire to something local without thinking, ‘oh, I haven’t really made it unless I go and work in New York’.

“I think there’s now good opportunity for kids to aspire to a high-end career and not think they have to leave the state.”

See the boys’ project here.

Teachers Jak Francis and Matthew Wallace with the Year 9 students during a visit to the Hamilton Space Academy, at Hamilton Secondary College, earlier this year.

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