Essex college enrols NASA and European and UK space agencies to train children to be astronauts

REPRESENTATIVES from the UK Space Agency descended on Stansted on Friday to kick-start an international project.

Stansted Mountfitchet Mathematics and Computing College (MMCC) hosted the first Mission X – in conjunction with the European Space Agency (ESA) and the NASA – which is aimed at getting children under the age of 11 fit and healthy.

Pupils from MMMC, as well as children from Bentfield, Elsenham, St Mary’s, Birchanger, Henham & Ugley and Grove Primary School (Redbridge) primary schools, were all invited to take part in ‘missions’.

Head of Science at the college Charmain Dunham said: “It was absolutely fantastic and the most amazing day. We had lots of guest speakers including rocket scientist John London and Dr Iya Whiteley, a psychologist who helps to teach astronauts how to problem solve.

“We also had Jeremy Curtis from the UK Space Agency giving lectures and helping with activities.”

Mission X UK teams perform a number of physical exercises and classroom lessons, so that children can become as fit as an astronaut and learn the importance of an active lifestyle and healthy nutrition.

The students, aged between nine and 11, will take part in the project for six weeks and will have scores awarded after each exercise. At the end of the mission, the winning class for each country will be announced.

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The tasks include 19 difrerent physical ‘missions’ such as energy of an astronaut, base station walkback, Martian mountain climb, crew assembly and spacewalking.

“On the day the children got to test ‘urine’ samples to learn about the importance of drinking lots of water as well as the dangers of hidden fats by mashing up a burger,” added Ms Dunham.

“The children love things like that but its also really good for them to learn about their food.”

The participating schools will now complete their missions and the college has no intention of letting an opportunity like this go to waste.

“We want to try to get parents and families involved with the ‘missions’ so we can teach the whole community how to be fit and healthy like an astronaut,” said Ms Dunham.

“The college is on the forefront of the project, which if it proves to be successful will be rolled out across the country.

“At the moment it is restricted to year seven and primary years but other years would really benefit from the lectures.”

Other countries taking part in Mission X include the Netherlands, Brazil, Austria, Columbia, France, Germany, Spain and the USA.