Space talk a blast for students

A New Zealander's desire to be the first Kiwi in space has enthralled a group of Stratford students.

Dr Karen Willcox, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, (MIT), was recently at St Mary's Diocesan School to talk to the girls about her goals of landing on the moon and the various steps she had taken to fulfil it.

Student Paige Garner said she found Willcox's talk "very interesting".

"It was very thought provoking about how she didn't really know what she wanted to do at school but then related it to something she liked," Paige said.

"She definitely did bring it down to my level of understanding."

Christina Dioniso said Willcox was "quite inspirational", while Bree-Anna Langton said the lecturer was good at "explaining and giving details".

"It was so good how she had models that we could use," Bree-Anna said.

Willcox worked with the girls to build a pressurised water-propelled rocket using their physics knowledge and a workshop was held for the budding physicist on rocket design.

She spoke to the students about the six models of leadership and the different leadership qualities people possessed.

St Mary's head of science Matt Coleman said having Willcox at the school was an opportunity to get students excited about science, engineering and the career opportunities it presented them.

Willcox completed her engineering degree at Auckland University before finishing her masters and PhD at MIT.

She was also a finalist in the 2009 Nasa Astronaut Selection and worked for Boeing Phantom Works before joining MIT as a lecturer.

Taranaki Daily News