Catterline are top of the class

from left to right, Catterline pupils Kimberley Greenshields, Hannah Boggon, Daisy Buchanan and Sammie Evans
from left to right, Catterline pupils Kimberley Greenshields, Hannah Boggon, Daisy Buchanan and Sammie Evans

Pupils from Catterline School have won a computer programming competition that will see their program run in space this month.

In February of this year, a small group of primary 6/7 pupils from Catterline Primary school took part in a European-wide computer programming competition run by the European Space Agency.

Teams of students from all ESA Member States were invited to have their codes run on the Astro Pi onboard the International Space Station (ISS). Astro Pi is the name of a small computer developed by the Raspberry Pi Foundation, in collaboration with the UK Space Agency and ESA. There are two Astro Pi’s onboard the ISS which are equipped with a set of sensors that can be used to run scientific experiments.

Pupils from all over Europe were invited to write code in the programming language Python, to be run on these Astro Pi’s on board the ISS.

Catterline Primary school pupils designed and coded an indoor weather app which collected data on the temperature, pressure and humidity conditions on board the ISS - they also designed colourful weather symbols that gave the astronauts an idea of ‘the weather’ inside the space station. This month, the pupils discovered that they were one of the competitions winners, and that their program would be run in space during May!!

The pupils were assisted by a parent volunteer, Franny Buchanan who is a Report Developer at Petrotechnics, a company in Aberdeen.

Franny attended the school on Friday afternoons to provide lessons to the children to assist them with learning basic Python skills. She said - “I have been amazed at how quickly the children grasped programming skills, and am so proud of what they have achieved in a very short space of time. It’s great that the school has been so supportive of this project because this is the perfect age (10/11 years old) for children to start learning programming. They showed great creativity in designing and building their app.”

Later this month, the pupils will receive their data back from the ISS and will use it to learn more about their current maths topic - statistics.

If you’d like to read more about the Astro Pi Challenge, you can find it on the ESA website at the following link, where Catterline Primary’s school name is currently listed as one of the 2016/17 European Astro Pi Challenge Winners.