Macquarie Fields High School students simulate satellite repairs at the Space Academy in Huntsville, Alabama.

Out of this world trip

Ken Silburn
Casula HS

The science of space is something most high school students can only dream of experiencing — for some, however, this will become a reality.

The Metropolitan South West Science Teachers Association through an iSTEM (Invigorating Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) program is again organising a tour to the United States during the September school holidays to take teachers and students to the Space Academy in Huntsville, Alabama.

Since 2010, more than 160 NSW teachers and students have participated in the iSTEM program and made the trip, visiting places of scientific interest. What is fantastic about this year’s trip is that it will also incorporate a stopover in South Korea so that students can visit the Samsung Exhibition Centre and share some time in a Korean school.

The program is open to teachers and students in years 9 to 11. They will take part in a one-week program at the Space and Rocket Centre with training in engineering, space technology and aerospace science. There, they will enact a space mission, from the role of the pilot and co-pilot to gravity simulations.

The program is a once-in-a-life-time opportunity. The personal growth of students during the course is amazing and from a teacher’s viewpoint it is incredible to witness the engagement of students throughout the program.

Following the success of the program’s launch in 2010 we were contacted by many students outside Sydney South West Region who were eager to participate. For this reason the 2014 program is open to all students from years 9-11.

Now with the generous support of the National Australia Bank the program is able to include several activities in Australia for science enrichment and team-building combined with other iSTEM activities.

The program is also recognised as 30 hours professional development for teachers by the Board of Studies, Teaching and Educational Standards.

More information about the program can be found on the program website,

Dr Ken Silburn was the 2012 recipient of the NSW Science and Engineering award for Innovation in Science and Mathematics Teaching.