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NASA Scientist for a Day winners announced

Techblog staff. 14 June 2021, 3:50 pm

This year's winners of the NASA Scientist for a Day competition are Sophie Ineson from Southland Girl's High School (Year 7 & 8 category) and Lucia Mochel from Whangamata Area School (Year 9 & 10 category), the New Zealand Space Agency in the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) announced today.

The 2021 competition saw year's 7-10 students challenged to learn about three moons of Uranus - Ariel, Oberon and Titania, and then write an essay of up to 300 words explaining which of these moons they would want to explore with a robotic spacecraft.

New Zealand Space agency head Dr Peter Crabtree says the judges were blown away by the calibre of this year's entries.

"This year we were over the moon with the number of high-quality essays we received from over the 40 New Zealand schools who participated.

"The NASA Scientist for a Day competition aims to encourage teachers to use space as context for learning across the curriculum to provide students with an insight into the wonders of space.

"I'd personally like to thank all of the teachers who worked tirelessly with these students to inspire and engage their interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects.

"The space sector is an exciting area that offers career opportunities across a wide range of jobs and after reading these entries, it's safe to say that the future of New Zealand's space industry is in very good hands. Congratulations to everyone who entered."

Both winning students will receive a Sky-Watcher 6" Dobsonian telescope from Astronz and the help of the Southland Astronomical Society to learn how to use them. They will also have their essays published on both the NASA and New Zealand Space Agency websites.

The competition was blindly judged with Sophie Ineson backing up her win from last year's competition. Sophie has very kindly donated her telescope to the Deep Cove Trust where many students will go for their Year 8 school camp. 

The New Zealand Space Agency wishes to thank all of the students for their entries.


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