Pupils rocket to Euro success

Milngavie Academy Cansat WInners
Milngavie Academy Cansat WInners

TALENTED science and physics students from Bearsden Academy have scooped first prize in a prestigious European competition.

Pupils from Team Alpha - Rebecca Mackenzie, Dominic Laing, Matthew Morris, Findlay MacRae and their physics teacher Richard Ford - returned from Oslo in Norway last weekend after winning a remarkable victory in the final of the Cansat contest .

They were asked to design, make and test a mini-satellite contained in a standard soft drinks can and produced the best results after launching their satellite from a light aircraft above a rocket range at Andoya Island, northern Norway.

The budding scientists and engineers beat 14 other European countries including Spain, Ireland, Italy, France, Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Greece, Norway, Portugal, Romania and The Netherlands.

Sponsored and managed by Fistral, a Glasgow-based training and management consultancy, the Bearsden Academy team used cans supplied by Scottish soft drinks manufacturer Irn Bru.

Their can had a small vehicle on board called a rover which was deployed on landing, it also had a solar panel on the roof and measured light.

The idea behind the competition was to test conditions for a real Mars landing vehicle and offer a similar challenge to students as a real satellite mission in terms of weight, size and robustness of the satellite.

Helensburgh based Scottish Cansat secretary, Dr Paul Lyden, a mathematician, said: “The Bearsden pupils kept their cool when other teams were running about like headless chickens and even just before the launch, they were calmly playing cards. The European judging panel was very impressed as were the other teams.

“It was testament to the Scottish pragmatism in technology and the excellent project management advice given by Fistral that made sure the Scottish team was well drilled in project management techniques.

“All the preparation and processes that Fistral training put teams through in the Scottish final of the Cansat competition in March this year gave the team the winning edge in Norway.

“Pupils followed a process developed at the Royal Observatory in Edinburgh, the Scottish centre for design and production of telescopes and astronomical technology, and Strathaven airfield in Lanarkshire.

“They made absolutely sure they understood the objectives of the mission and they were well prepared and had planned their project well. All the risks were also covered and the students adopted calm and studied approach to the project.

“The really solid Scottish approach won the day and I am absolutely delighted.”

Other Bearsden pupils who took part in the project were Ryan Mitchell, Caitlin Chalmers, Peter Meadows, Drew Cowan and Grant McConnachie.

Physics teacher Richard Ford said: “It just goes to show that teamwork and good preparation pay off in the end. The team was outstanding, they work really well and gave a good presentation.

“Some of the teams from other countries were very technological but the Bearsden pupils had the edge over them - they delivered what they said they would.”