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Space School students receive certificates from Minister for Education

Friday, 12 September 2014

Two sixth-form students from the Isle of Man experienced an adventure of a lifetime at NASA’s United Space School in Houston, Texas this summer.

Caitlin Pinder from St Ninian’s High School and Kitto Maddrell from Castle Rushen High School joined students from 21 other countries for two weeks after winning the annual scholarships awarded by ManSat Ltd.

ManSat Space School scholars Caitlin Pinder and Kitto MaddrellThe scholarships, which ManSat has been awarding since 2000, are supported by the Department of Education and Children, and Caitlin and Kitto visited DEC Headquarters at Hamilton House in Douglas to meet Minister for Education Tim Crookall MHK and receive a certificate marking their achievements.

‘The trip was just amazing, by far the best thing I've ever done,’ said Caitlin. ‘I'm so lucky to have been given the opportunity. I've been given friends for life all over the world, and we're all meeting up in October and then again next year. It was hard to say goodbye to all the people there who I'd become so close to, but we all still keep in touch.

‘We had to present our work to the Space School board members, and it was nerve-racking but everyone did so well in planning our “mission to Mars”. It was a lot of hard work, but it all paid off when we received our certificates.

‘I learned a great deal about the whole industry and the science behind it. Within my group, Mission Control, I took on the role of looking after the psychological aspects of the project, as that's what I enjoy the most, and this reinforced my goal to become a psychologist. I want to continue to be involved in programs like this, hopefully returning to the Space School when I'm 21 to mentor a team.’

Kitto said: ‘The trip was a life changing event for me and I genuinely can’t think of a greater experience in my life so far. To work with students from around the world and develop friendships while receiving lectures from industry-leading professionals, well, it’s like nothing else.

‘During the two weeks we visited places like the Houston Space Centre, Ad Astra and the Mars Society. To have an in depth view into both the past and future of the space industry was eye opening and incredible. We also had the amazing opportunity to meet three astronauts who gave first-hand accounts of their times in space.

‘The bonds you make with the people you meet there will stay with you for life. Being able to move past language and cultural barriers to perform well as a team mirrored the space industry in real life. In that environment you get a feel for what it must be like to take part in such an international collaboration and the satisfaction that comes from it.’

ManSat Chief Executive Chris Stott said: ‘This is the 15th year we have offered these scholarships, and Caitlin and Kitto have followed in the footsteps of some wonderful students who have represented the Island so well down the years.’

The competition to win the scholarships is open to year 12 students at the DEC’s five high schools. ManSat’s Finance Director Ian Jarritt will visit each of the schools in the coming months to talk to students about the USS and invite entries for the 2015 scholarships.

Minister for Education Tim Crookall MHK said: ‘I was thrilled to meet the newest graduates from NASA’s United Space School today and to hear about their fascinating experiences. Thanks to ManSat’s ongoing support and generosity for this unique scheme, Caitlin and Kitto have travelled to the heart of the space industry and learned about not only the science that sends man into space, but all the other facets that go into planning such exploration and they have acquired valuable new skills that will be of use to them in their studies and their careers.’

In addition to the USS scholarships, ManSat sponsors and supports the annual Spirit of Innovation competition for Manx high schools, in cooperation with the Pete Conrad Foundation. The company also awards an annual ‘ManSat Fellowship’ grant, for Manx students seeking to further their studies in space, and scholarships to programs run by the International Space University in Strasbourg.

Please visit for more information about the USS and for details of the company’s scholarships.

Image caption:

Left to right – ManSat CEO Chris Stott, Caitlin Pinder from St Ninian’s High School, Tony Wild MLC, Political Member of the Department of Education and Children, Tim Crookall, Minister for Education and Children, ManSat Director Ian Jarritt, and Kitto Maddrell from Castle Rushen High School

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