NASA interest in Scottish school’s Erasmus+ project

One school in Scotland tells us about their out-of-this world Erasmus Club experience, where pupils were able to engage with NASA in one of their activities.

NASA school badge designAn Erasmus+ club is a great way for schools to involve its pupils in a wide variety of extra-curricula activities. Wellington School in Ayr has been leading an Erasmus+ project, Eurostronomia, to increase the students' knowledge of astrophysics and launch an interest in all things space-related.

When one of its students, Lillie McCluskie, went to NASA, the school knew this was too good an opportunity to miss.

Space fascination

Isabel Archbold, lead Erasmus+ teacher in the Primary Department, explained: “Lillie was an original member of the Junior Erasmus Club, set up four years ago, and our first Junior Erasmus Captain. She was fascinated with space and volunteered with the Scottish Dark Skies Observatory which helped her to then secure a place at the Space School in Kilmarnock, the youngest there.

"Here she became even more determined to become an astronaut and go to Mars. Lillie’s age and enthusiasm caught the attention of Sarah Murray, Deputy, Orion Vehicle Systems Performance & Analysis, NASA/JS, who visits the Scottish Space School every year."

Mars Mission Patches Competition

“Lillie gave us the idea for a school competition when she brought us the ‘Mission Patch’, given to her for participating at Space School. Then we learned that Sarah had invited Lillie to NASA for the summer and we wondered ‘What if we could design a patch for Lillie to have on her spacesuit on her first mission to Mars and have some prestigious judges scrutinise our artwork?’…and the Mars Mission Patches competition was born!”

Inspired by Lillie’s experience, the school devised an Erasmus Club activity to involve all their students in the exciting world of NASA.

Isabel continued: “The Junior Erasmus Club love a competition! Club members researched planet Mars and mission patch designs, drafting and redrafting their ideas until they were happy with the results.

"They were finished in time for the start of the holidays when Lillie was able to take them with her to NASA, with an accompanying letter asking her host, Sarah Murray, if she would kindly judge the competition for us. It was so exciting for our students to have their work judged by NASA!”

Eurostronomia Erasmus+ competition NASA judges

NASA judges

“Sarah went above and beyond our expectations and invited an astronaut, Steve Bowen, and the founder of the International Space School Education Trust, Chris Barber, to assist her.

"The three judges picked Isla as the winner, and Eva as the runner-up and all the entrants received a NASA patch for taking part.

Wellington School Eurostronomia competition badges"Both girls’ designs have been made into badges and gifted to them. A set of badges has also been sent to each of the Eurostronomia partner schools in seven countries across Europe, as well as to Sarah Murray at NASA."

Isabel concluded: “Lillie continues to support Junior Erasmus Club now that she is a senior pupil and has mentored younger pupils involved in the Mars Mission Patches competition and other Eurostronomia activities.

"She visited the club after her time at NASA Houston and sat in the ‘hot seat’ to answer the younger children’s questions. Thanks to Lillie, the Deputy Director at NASA is now showing a keen interest in our Erasmus+ project!”

Find out more about Wellington School's Eurostronomia Erasmus+ project.