What a crazy 48 hours. The students from the UK and EU teams are now sleep-deprived, hungry and, let’s be honest, a little disappointed.
After two days and the best part of a night preparing their presentations, it was judgement day. The teams lined up at the KSC and presented their versions of a Venusian habitat for 10 000 people to the rest of the students. The four 35-minute presentations were all outstanding and, given that there was UK representation in 3 of the 4 teams we felt that we had a good chance of at least some of us carrying off the trophy. Alas, it was not to be as the presentation from Grumbo, the only company without UK representation, blew the rest out of the water. The science was equally good in all four presentations, but the professionalism of the Grumbo presentation impressed the judging panel enough to sway the final vote.
However, there was one award that a UK competitor did win. Alex Radford (pictured) won the prize for outstanding leadership.
There was a 5 hour gap between presentation and judging and the students used this time to look around the space centre – for any aspiring aerospace engineer this is Nirvana and the Saturn 5 rocket and the Space Shuttle “Atlantis” moved some of our students to tears – literally. It was a jaw-dropping experience.
The minibus ride home was slightly manic as sleep deprivation and the sight of a large alligator in the creek took its toll, but what an amazing couple of days.
Shopping day! Time for Team EU to experience the “mall” culture of the US of A! We thought 6 hours of shopping would be far too long, meant for someone else but not for us. But then we saw the sales, and now we’re all believers! By the end of it there was not a trace of doubt in our minds. We spent all day racing through the mall tackling as many shops as we could. From Citizen watches and Calvin Klein to Toys R Us and Disney! We bought everything… Make up, shoes, food and so much more! The food court was our meeting point and where we had lunch. There was a friendly rivalry between Chinese, Japanese and American cuisine and so there was a divide on what to eat… What’s the use in fighting? All you get is hunger pains, Chinese vs Japanese (I got chicken chow mein). Unfortunately we’ve now run out of money for food… Can we survive off Twinkies and Cheetos for the rest of the trip? I’m a believer.
Yes, here we are in Orlando for the International Final of 2017! The UKSDC has brought THREE teams of brilliant students this year – here was their first day out, in their own words:
Brian Kong, leader of EU team
Somebody once told me that Universal was one of the best theme parks you could go to and the “Science Space Club” tested this today. Everyone was up nice and early since it wasn’t a school morning and was ecstatic to go. After a short drive we arrived at Universal Orlando and once we finally sorted out tickets dated for August we dived straight into the Islands of Adventure. Team EU decided to loop once round the park starting with a 90 minute wait for a 30 second ride… The Hulk. That was a good turnover rate! The weather was hot and it would only get hotter so the water rides solved this for us. Harry Potter world was the team’s favourite; with so much to do, so much to see with all the shops in the backstreets. Our favourite ride was the Dragon Challenge which we went on 6 times! The Harry Potter themes really made us feel like the all-star cast of the wizarding world. You’ll never know if you don’t go.
Alex Radford, leader of UK finalist team
What do Spiderman, Harry Potter and Jurassic Park Dinosaurs have to do with space settlements? Not much admittedly, but spending the day at Universal Studios’s Islands of Adventure Theme Park was certainly a good way to adjust to Florida heat and get to know our team mates.
Universal’s theme park was ideal for our group — with rides for both thrill-seekers and chill-seekers, everyone could fine a ride that was too their liking. 45-minute waits were made bearable by good company, conversation, and air-conditioning.
Highlights included cooling down from the heat on log flumes, modelling the Thing 1/2 wigs in the Seuss-land shop, and continuing to wear our fashion-forward flower necklaces. Of course, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter was simply magical.
The day was a fantastic start to a trip that is sure to be filled with many more exciting twists and turns as we explore Florida and begin the competition!
Tavleen Wasan, leader of UK invited team
So today was our first day in Florida. After overcoming minor issues with the Universal tickets, everyone dispersed to make the most of the day. The theme park exceeded all expectations; there were rides to suit those with all relationships with height and of all mental ages. It was a really fun day – despite 95% humidity and 35 degree heat (made just about tolerable by ingenuous water spraying fans and endless sprite top ups) we all enjoyed ourselves massively. It was a really good way to get to know each other better and also bond in a relaxed way before the heat of the competition.
But if you missed this one, all is not lost. There’ll be one more Supermoon this year, on December 14. It won’t be as spectacular as this one, but it’ll blot out the Geminid meteor shower! Find out more from NASA’s Solar System Exploration pages.