To NASA – and beyond
Perth High School pupils team up with Merlin ERD for grounding in engineering before Space School mission
A group of Perth High School pupils is “over the moon” after support for their autumn trip to Space Camp at NASA came from none other than Neil Armstrong.
Unlike his famous namesake, however, this Neil Armstrong has his feet firmly on the ground in his role as Engineering Director with Perth-based global oil and gas engineering consultancy Merlin ERD.
The Perth-based company has stepped in to ensure the youngsters’ eagerly anticipated visit to the NASA Johnson Space Centre at Houston in the USA proves a trip of a lifetime.
Nine pupils, aged 14-17 years, will make the trip to the International Space School in October.
And the engineers have been tasking the would-be Space Cadets with a technology research project to prepare them for their international school’s challenge in Texas later this year.
Neil worked with the children to research Merlin’s new solar SmartFlower which powers the company’s Merlin House headquarters at Cherrybank.
“Merlin was happy to support funding the pupils’ exciting trip to NASA but we also wanted to get them involved in a technical project in advance,” said Neil.
“They’ve really thrown themselves into the task of researching the benefits of this new piece of solar power technology to Merlin and determining its impact on our carbon footprint.”
Merlin is also keen to promote the study of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in Scottish schools and identified the new support partnership to advance interest and engagement in those subjects.
“Space Camp is a great opportunity for these pupils,” said Neil, “and hopefully we have added something to that experience which will help them on their trip.”
Perth High School teacher of Physics, Ms Sinead NiRiain, who will accompany the students to NASA, said the research carried out at Merlin had been “a great experience” for the group.
“The space station uses solar power, so it was really useful to carry out research on the hi-tech solar SmartFlower equipment at Merlin,” she said. “It was great to see them getting to know each other better and begin to work as a team to analyse data and prepare a presentation. I am sure this will help with the challenges they will face at NASA.”
The pupils also spent two days gardening at Merlin’s Cherrybank grounds and learning about the company’s drive to be energy neutral at the offices.
Ms NiRiain was also appreciative of the financial support offered by the global drilling experts.
“Thanks to the fantastic donation from Merlin ERD we are able to absorb increased costs for the trip and give the young people an even better experience in Texas this year,” she said.
The teenagers will leave Perth on October 13 and return on the 20th having spent a week immersed in engineering and computing tasks in addition to basic astronaut training including micro-gravity underwater robotics challenges.