On Monday night at the Goulburn Workers Club, representatives from several schools from throughout the Yass Valley, Goulburn Mulwaree, and ACT congregated for an information night about the Cuberider program which was introduced to Yass High School in August.
The program allows children from years seven to 10 to create experiments which can be sent up to the International Space Station (ISS) and carried out by the astronauts.
The idea was brought to Yass High by teacher Nick Biddle, and supported by Keith Rosario, who runs a small tech business in Yass called Cingulan Space.
Cingulan Space was already involved in a robotics course with Berinba Public School when Mr Rosario decided to approach the high school and see if they would be interested in “something similar [to the robotics program]”.
“And lo and behold, Nick had just that previous week signed on to Cuberider,” Mr Rosario said.
So Mr Rosario threw his weight behind the idea to “try and keep it alive”, and the reaction from the students was immediate.
The students’ data came back from the ISS soon after it was sent up, and although there were some small errors in their data and suggested design improvements, Mr Biddle said that “the students were very pleased to be part of it.”
“I think a part of them still doesn’t really believe it,” he said.
“They feel like ‘oh my god, did we really do this?’”
The success of the initial program at Yass High School inspired Mr Rosario to give the program wider prominence, and he travelled to Goulburn on Monday to attend the information night which was organised by one of his colleagues who is a member of the Goulburn Rotary Club.
The goal of the night was to point out the benefits of the science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) departments for regional schools, and how Cuberider could tie in with a successful STEM program.
Mr Biddle and Yass High student Milli Duncan attended the event to speak about their experience, along with Ben Stein, head of science at Daramalan College in Canberra, and students Bryn Skelton and Rueben Rosario.
The CEO of Cuberider, Solange Cunin attended via internet linkup, and explained how the program works.
“She dialled in and gave quite a lengthy introduction to the program,” Mr Rosario said.
“She also shed some light about the experiments that are happening around the Cuberider program, and some of them are pretty high-tech.”
Mr Rosario explained his personal motivation for promoting the program.
“It’s about introducing the kids to high-tech in a structured fashion,” he said.
“So really it’s about opening up kids minds to a STEM career.
“It’s for kids in the regional areas to understand that they can access high-tech career paths.”