Two sixth-form students from the Isle of Man are in Houston, USA, attending NASA’s United Space School.
Caitlin Pinder from St Ninian’s High School and Kitto Maddrell from Castle Rushen High School won the annual ManSat scholarships for the two-week space school in Texas.
Working with the Department of Education and Children, island-based ManSat has been offering the scholarships since 2000.
Caitlin and Kitto will join students from 21 other countries at the school, and follow in the footsteps of last year’s recipients, Christopher Clarke-Halewood from Castle Rushen High School and Alex Eaton from Queen Elizabeth II High School.
ManSat chief executive Chris Stott said: ‘It’s an international class, with around 45 students from countries as far afield as New Zealand, Russia and Bolivia, and it’s fantastic for the island to have two representatives at the Space School.’
The competition to win the scholarships is open to 16- and 17-year-olds at the island’s five state high schools.
This year’s entrants had to write three short essays – each between 500 and 1,000 words – on these subjects:
1. How can space be of service to humanity?
2. How can the Isle of Man play a greater role in international space activities?
3. Why am I interested in space?
Caitlin and Kitto are staying with families connected with NASA during the two weeks, and will attend the Space School Culture Fair, at which all students are challenged to promote their homeland.
This year, Caitlin and Kitto will be conjuring up a couple of batches of bonnag to give their international peers a taste of the Isle of the Man.
Caitlin said: ‘It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I visited universities in England recently, and they all said what a fantastic addition the Space School trip is to have on your personal statement.’
Kitto said: ‘I heard about the scholarship from one of last year’s winners, Christopher. He told me what a wonderful experience he’d had, and that inspired me to enter this year’s competition.
‘What I’m looking forward to most is immersing myself in American culture. It’s a trip that could be life-changing.
‘I’ve not yet decided what I want to do with my life, and so this could set me on a career path.’
In addition to the Space School scholarships, ManSat sponsors and supports the annual Spirit of Innovation competition for Manx high schools, in cooperation with the Pete Conrad Foundation, and earlier this year sponsored an island high school to participate in the UK Rocketry Challenge.