Top Team Performance at STEM Solutions Competition

Top Team Performance at STEM Solutions Competition

Caterham’s delegation took part in the local STEM Solutions at the end of May, training fantastically and holding their own against formidable opposition.

Ava, Darryl, Elle and Kirill (Lower Sixth) were tasked with preparing a five-minute presentation about “the future of space governance.” Throughout April and May, they interpreted and researched the many branches of this topic, and took part in some great rehearsals, which allowed them to fine tune their writing and commentary. They also practised their problem solving and general knowledge skills in some science quiz sessions – from Planck’s constant to human physiology via relative atomic masses, all Lower Sixth and other science would be fair game for the coming questions.

On 23 May, the team boldly went to Woldingham for the competition, with Dr Kemp and I as mission controllers. We were greeted by Mr Rickard (Head of Science) and Flt Lt Greenwood (UK Space Command Centre) as we took our places in the auditorium. We were provided with a Molymod kit, some paper straws, a roll of Sellotape, a calculator, and an iPad app with a University Challenge-style buzzer, all of which would come in very useful during the quiz rounds and a delightful “build the longest marble run” challenge. Highlights of the quizzes included “exabyte” and “quicksilver.” Answers at the end of this article: how many petabytes are there in one exabyte; what is the modern name for the element formerly called quicksilver?

The teams’ presentations were scheduled in between the various rounds. Caterham went first, presenting their interpretations of how the nations could (or arguably should) regulate space exploration, with a dive into some of the physics behind space travel. Sevenoaks, Tonbridge, Warlingham and Woldingham’s teams showcased their research in due course as well.

After a pause for some refreshments, we reconvened in the auditorium to hear Flt Lt Greenwood’s fantastic keynote speech about the huge dangers of space debris and the critical importance of artificial satellites to the UK and global economies. He likened the current state of space governance to the “Wild West” (i.e. whoever gets there first takes the spoils), which led one observer to comment afterwards that it sounded like Toy Story’s core protagonists, Woody and Buzz Lightyear, had written the address. (Perhaps more significantly, Tom Hanks played astronaut Jim Lovell in Apollo 13 as well as being the voice of Woody.)

The competition was a fantastic experience for the pupils and it was an honour to be able to take part and meet the other teams. We look forward to selecting Caterham’s 2025 delegation for the next one!

Mr R. Evans

Teacher of Chemistry and Science Enrichment

Answers to the questions: there are 1000 petabytes in one exabyte; quicksilver is now known as mercury.

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