Pupils are out of this world

Callum and Matthew receiving their Highly Commended award in the junior category of the Engineering and Technology competition at the Big Bang Fair.
Callum and Matthew receiving their Highly Commended award in the junior category of the Engineering and Technology competition at the Big Bang Fair.

Two Ballymena Academy pupils have been highly commended for their life support space project at the Big Bang Fair 2015.

Year 11 pupils Matthew Petticrew and Callum Aiken researched a project entitled “Enhancing Life Support in Space”, which involved identifying improvements that could be made in key areas such as food, oxygen, and water supply on board spacecraft.

The boys secured a place at the National Science and Engineering Finals held in the NEC in Birmingham, by winning Young Innovators 2014 and the overall Young Engineers Award at the Odyssey Arena Belfast, last June, organised by Sentinus UK.

The majority of the boys’ project focused on water recycling in space, and their research led them to propose the use of a reverse osmosis filter-kindly donated by Vyair UK-as a novel method of recycling water. They also designed a space habitation pod for transport in space using Skylon - a spaceplane - and were delighted that Fablab Belfast was able to print a 3D model of their prototype.

Throughout this project, the boys have been supported by Ballymena Academy Physics teacher Miss Kathryn Wylie who accompanied the boys to the Big Bang.

Callum’s and Matthew’s obvious knowledge and passion for this topic was inspirational to everyone who talked to them and led to them being presented with the special award for ‘The BAE Systems Inspired Work Prize’ which was open to all ages and categories in the competition.

This prize includes £500, a certificate and an experience day and was presented at the Awards Ceremony for the Big Bang hosted by TV’s Jason Bradbury and Fran Scott.

Following this amazing success, the boys also won a ‘Highly Commended Award’ in the Junior Category of the ‘Engineering and Technology’ competition, placing them joint third in this category and securing a prize of £100 and a certificate.