Young Worthing scientists in The Big Bang Competition UK finals

Young Worthing scientists who captured photos from space have won a place in the UK finals of The Big Bang UK Young Scientists & Engineers Competition.

Thursday, 20th February 2020, 11:33 am
Updated Thursday, 20th February 2020, 2:12 pm

Kieran Malandain and Robert Vella made a capsule filled with cameras, computers and sensors last year, when they were in year 11 at Chatsmore Catholic High School.

Helped by head of physics Peter Clarke, the boys released the capsule on June 28, 2019. It was carried by a large helium-filled balloon to the edge of space, to take photographs of the curvature of Earth and film the journey.

Once it reached 100,000ft, the balloon expanded and popped, causing the parachute to deploy.

Kieran Malandain and Robert Vella with the recovered capsule

Kieran, Robert and Peter lost contact with the capsule soon after it launched, due to technical issues, and as it to fell back to Earth in Flexham Park, two miles from the anticipated landing site, they were unable to find it, despite a wide search.

Luckily, five months later, it was discovered by Billingshurst dogwalker Simon Best and reunited with its creators.

The trio later found out their High Altitude Balloon project had qualified for the Big Bang Competition and now, it has been announced as one of the winners of the online heats. Kieran and Robert have been invited to attend the finals at The Big Bang Fair at the NEC Birmingham in March.

Dr Hilary Leevers, chief executive at EngineeringUK said: “The team from Chatsmore Catholic High School really impressed the judges with their project and we’re excited to see how they do at the UK finals.

“It is a huge achievement to progress to this stage of the competition and Kieran and Robert should be incredibly proud to take up their place and compete at The Big Bang Fair in March 2020.

“Going into its 12fth year in 2020, The Big Bang Fair continues to be a great source of STEM inspiration for young people, providing an amazing opportunity for young visitors, their teachers and parents to get hands-on with a wide range of activities, workshops and shows, and engage in meaningful career conversations with professionals, all designed to bring classroom learning to life and inspire the next generation.”

Judges noted the boys overcame problems such as short battery life by designing and building a charging circuit to keep components running throughout the 150-minute journey.

Despite the problem with the radio transmitter, which ultimately meant they lost track of the box, the team considered it to be a successful project which they will learn from and repeat in the future.