East Renfrewshire pupils’ winning idea will literally take off!

The winning team, Interstella Intellectuals, featuring East Renfrewshire's Jamie Macpherson and Maryam Khan. (Photo: Mark F Gibson)
The winning team, Interstella Intellectuals, featuring East Renfrewshire's Jamie Macpherson and Maryam Khan. (Photo: Mark F Gibson)

Two East Renfrewshire pupils are part of a winning team whose science experiment will be tested by NASA astronauts.

Jamie Macpherson, of Woodfarm High School, and Maryam Khan, of Eastwood High School, were among 200 pupils who enjoyed an out of this world opportunity as they embarked on a jam-packed three day programme of science experiments in the hope that theirs would be selected to be sent to space.

It was organised as part of a Mission Discovery programme delivered by the University of the West of Scotland (UWS) in partnership with the International Space School Education Trust (ISSET).

Jamie and Maryam were members of Interstella Intellectuals, winning group who will see their experiment tested out by NASA astronauts on the International Space Station

Their experiment explores whether artificially increasing root pressure will improve plant growth on the International Space Station, something which is compromised in microgravity.

The experiment has the potential to make a significant impact on future crop production in space.

The judges were impressed by the original nature of the experiment, the in-depth research the team carried out and the potential benefits it has for life in space.

As well as working on their experiments, the pupils had the chance to learn about life in outer space from former NASA astronaut, Dr Michael Foale, the most experienced British-born astronaut in the history of human spaceflight.

Dr Foale has flown into space on six missions and was Commander of the International Space Station.

He brought the Hubble Space Telescope back to life and played an integral role in saving the Russian ‘Mir’ Space Station as it tumbled out of control, following the only known collision in outer space.

Dr Foale said: “I have been so very impressed by the attitudes and ingenuity of the school pupils here in Scotland. Congratulations to them all.”

Chris Barber, founder of the ISSET, added: “It has been great working with UWS who have the vision and commitment to give out of this world creative opportunities to so many of our young people.”

Professor Craig Mahoney, UWS principal and vice-chancellor, thanked everyone who took part in the Mission Discovery 2019 space school.

He added: “A special well done must also go to the winning team, Interstellar Intellectuals.”