On September 26th 2014, the BrightPath Foundation honoured 17 secondary school students from NorthGate College, St. Augustine at the residence of the Canadian High Commissioner of Trinidad.
Over the past year, these 17 bright young NorthGate College students competed in the Cubes in SpaceTM competition, a no-cost global design competition held by the BrightPath Foundation in partnership with Canadian education software company iDoodlesSoftware.inc. The Cubes in SpaceTM competition, targeted at students aged 11-14 years old, asked teams of students from secondary schools across the globe to develop STEM-based experiments for launch into space. This competition took place throughout the Caribbean, Africa and the U.S.A.
“It is significant that students from a school in a Caribbean country with no space programme could design an experiment, have that experiment sent into space and win our global contest,” said iDoodleSoftware Inc. founder and chief executive Robert Sowah.
The Cubes in Space prizegiving doubled as the global launch of the 2015 Cubes in Space programme and the launch of Trinidad's first TechLink workshop. The ceremony featured presenters such as US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) astronaut Dr Roger Crouch, who flew on two US space shuttle missions, and Bevil Wooding, founder of the BrightPath Foundation. Trinidad and Tobago's Minster of Education, Dr. Tim Gopeesingh, also said a words in praise of the young honourees' achievements and the support of NorthGate College, the BrightPath Foundation and iDoodleSoftware.inc for encouraging the movement toward STEM-based education.
Each student personally received a signed lithograph from astronaut Dr. Crouch, who was blown away by the students' experiment. The NASA scientist said the students’ experiment was “totally unique”. He commended them for doing the “the amount of hard work” needed to research and develop the idea behind the proposal, and lauded their persistence in designing and building the experiment, which was eventually submitted to NASA for space launch. The experiment, which sought to measure how much electricity is generated by an object moving through the ionosphere, fit into a cube about the size of a baby's fist.
NorthGate College Director Yolande La Pierre said the real value harvested from the exercise went far beyond the science experiment itself: “The lasting lesson from Cubes in Space 2014 is the value of helping our children to be critical thinkers and to push past the boundaries of our geographic limitations. These children have become better students and indeed better persons as a result of the hard work, diligence and thoroughness they had to develop to emerge as winners and they did this as a team.”
"The hope is that more kids from around the world will be taking part in this [competition] as a result of the Caribbean’s and NorthGate College's success," Amber Dee-Hart, coordinator for the Cubes In Space program said in an interview.
The Cubes in Space programme is a partnership between Rubik Learning Initiative, idoodlessoftware.inc, the Colorado Space Grant Consortium RockSat-C programme and is supported by the Sounding Rocket Programme Office at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility.