UCTC Life February 9th 2018

logo.jpg                    UCTC Life - 9th February 2018                                   


Nasa Trip Report:

On the 21st of January we left the College at 4.30am to catch our 9.30am flight from Heathrow.  One week later, we returned, exhausted, academically challenged, but very happy.  This is a report about what we did in between.

40 of our most talented Science and Engineering students travelled to Houston Texas to take part in Space University, NASA’s Science and Engineering Masterclasses.

Working with experienced NASA Engineers and Scientists on a number of challenges, all of which were based around NASA’s current brief which is to take humans to Mars. NASA are already working on a new launch system and have the space capsule Orion nearing completion. Much of the work astronauts are currently doing on the ISS is research into the physiological effects of long term space travel.

Students worked in 5 person teams and were each given a  $600 million budget for the week.


Thermal shield design using a variety of materials to protect an egg from a propane blow torch for 2 minutes. Thermal shields are used to protect spacecraft from burning up in the atmosphere on re-entry.

Cryogenic Capsule design. Our task was to use a range of materials to protect an Astronaut (a marshmallow!) from the extremely low temperatures found in Space. We used Liquid Nitrogen (-176 ℃!) to test our designs.

Mars Habitat design. Our most complex task was to design a habitat suitable for 10-20 Astronauts, we had to  take account of a huge list of criteria including protecting them from Solar Radiation, providing a breathable atmosphere, food and accommodation, recreation laboratory space and waste disposal and sanitation. The winning design is currently on display in the Starship Gallery.

Mars Rover. Essential to any self respecting Mars trip is the need to collect rock samples and ours was no different. Our Mars Rover Robots had to collect 6 rock samples and return them to base.

EVA (Spacewalk!) challenge aka scuba diving. All Astronauts are trained to make EVAs (extra vehicular activities) in the  huge Neutral Buoyancy Lab which we visited and watched astronauts start their training session by being lowered into the huge pool. Then we retired to the William Pool, a more modest sized pool where after a thorough introduction to SCUBA diving the students completed their own EVA activities.

2 stage rocket. Design and build a 2 stage rocket, launch it, watch it separate, fire stage 2, separate, deploy its parachute and bring the Capsule floating gently back to earth… simple!

Our teams comprised:

Team Mola

Overall 1st Place

Katie Crouch, Owen McSherry, Sam Bishop , Tom Preston, Ric Haynes

Team Sojourner

Overall 2nd Place

Ollie Burchett, Ellie Pain, Luke Goldsmith, Zach Stevens , Harry Maher

Team Mars Express

Overall 3rd Place

Sophie Nye,  Zac Ruane, Joe Howell, Oscar Winter, Bradley Pierce

Team MRO

Ellie Goldsmith, Daisy Arno, Joshua Christian, Lottie Marshall, Hobie Pratt

Team Orion

Michael Bittan, Sam Huddart, Jake Dawson, Isabel Nyren, Ria Sanderson

Team Spirit

Matt Booysen, Elenor Nyren, Jake Fisher-Dunford, Jack Smith, Lloyd Johnston

Team Curiosity

Charlie Bittan, Tom Lines, Abi Hollingsworth, Zak Robertson,  Lucy Shaill

Team Maven

Joe Ball, Aleks Peterson, Nathan Dowding, Sophie Rust, Evan Lester

Heat shield Challenge Winners: Team Mola

Cryogenic Challenge Winners: Team Spirit

Habitat Challenge Winners: Team Mars Express

Mars Rover Vex Challenge Winners: Team Sojourner

Rocket Challenge Winners: Team Curiosity

(It’s not rocket science…...oh wait a minute, yes it is!)

Our evenings were filled with American sized meals (HUGE), a bit of homework, and a selection of other entertainments, such as bowling, laser quest, billiards, space quiz….. swimming in January in an unheated outdoor pool was only for the very brave!

On our final morning, we met an astronaut, Rick Heib, a veteran of 3 space missions.  He was a truly inspirational speaker and the students were hanging on his every word.  He made the students feel comfortable and they asked a range of questions, which he happily expanded on.  He clearly enjoyed sharing his experiences and relished the opportunity to promote NASA engineering as a career.


Graduation in the Starship Gallery - Our week was filled with achievements and we celebrated on our final day in true American style.  We had had such a fantastic week and the students had all worked so well together that it was quite an emotional moment - our amazing trip was coming to an end.

Each student was presented with a Space University Graduation certificate and each was individually applauded; photographs were taken to remind us of this memorable occasion.  The UCTC teachers were (not so secretly) delighted to also be awarded their graduation certificates.

Throughout the whole  week our students were fantastic in every way, a credit to the College and to the UK. True ambassadors!

Congratulations to Drama Students of the Term:

Year 7: Fifi Bloomsbury-Kier, Tabby Elliott, Max Downs, Theo Harvey and April Owen

Year 8: Abbie Wilson and Kayla Luck

Year 9: Benedict Weis and Sophia Rose

Year 10: Lily-May Gauntlett and Eleanor Mumford

Year 11: Andrew Green and Caitlin Walmsley

Year 12 & 13: Michael Stockham

The Hospitality and Catering Level 2 BTEC students took part in a £10 challenge to raise money for the schools’ latest charity.  They chose to celebrate "National Pizza Day" and so planned, advertised, made and served over 100 mini pizzas to the students and staff at the College.  They raised a whopping £46.10, which to date is the biggest profit made within this challenge.  Corey, Emily and Emma worked seamlessly as a team and all pizzas were bought and consumed before the end of break.  Well done BTEC-ers keep up the brilliant work!

Congratulations to Luca Major-Owens in 9U who had another great weekend traveling to Gillingham to compete in the Schools’ Trampoline Semi Finals. Luca came second in the under 14 girls Elite group and will now travel to Ireland in March to take part in the National School Finals Representing UCTC.  We wish Luca lots of luck in March and look forward to hearing more after the Finals.




As always we would love to hear from you if you have news of any achievements by our students in activities out of College.  Please email details to t.fletcher@uckfield.college.