Trip of a lifetime for 'space' pupils

PUBLISHED: 07:10 11 May 2006 | UPDATED: 09:15 24 May 2010

A TEAM of students will be comparing notes with some of America's top space scientists after winning a national competition. The year 10 youngsters, from Churchill Community School, went up against around 750 other schools across Britain in a competition

A TEAM of students will be comparing notes with some of America's top space scientists after winning a national competition.The year 10 youngsters, from Churchill Community School, went up against around 750 other schools across Britain in a competition challenging them to come up with solutions to the problems astronauts encounter in space.The Churchill pupils designed a space suit which helped combat the problem of astronauts' muscles fading away when they are carrying out vital research.Along with nine other winning teams the group, called Team Gravity, has won the chance to tour NASA's space stations in Florida and Texas in July.The four students, Amber Hartley-Watts, Joseph Plumb, Rebecca Voisey and Thomas Watson-Follet, had to present their idea in front of a panel of expert judges, including British astronaut Michael Foale.Normally, when astronauts are in space their muscles can deplete by up to 40 per cent because of their weightlessness. They have to spend up to two hours a day on a treadmill to build them up again. But the Churchill students have designed an electronic suit, called a Res-suit, which exercises the muscles as the astronauts work, meaning they have more time to devote to science.Amber Hartley-Watts said: "Michael Foale was really keen on our idea and I'm sure he spoke up for us with the other judges. "We were surprised to get to the final, so we never expected to win in a million years."It was all really tense at the end - our name was read out last of the 10 winners and we just went mad when they said 'Team Gravity'."None of us can wait to go - it's going to be the trip of a lifetime, with a chance to do some space training and meet the people who run the space programme."We also get plenty of time to see America as well, so that's really exciting too."The competition, called Edge Into Space, was organised by the International Space School Educational Trust.

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