Category: Education

UK Space Design Competition March 14-15, 2020 UK National…

The UKSDC finals will be held at Imperial College London on the weekend of 14 -15th of March 2020 – congratulations to all the qualifying teams – we look forwarding to welcoming you!

Information will be sent to the named supervisor for your team – please contact for any further details you may require.



NASA UK Space Scholarships July – Global Space Design…

Calling all space cadets!  Fancy going to NASA?  Win a free scholarship to an 11 day summer programme in the centre of London at a top university. Apply now !

Enter our Global Space Design Challenge today and put your space design brainpower to the test!

Download the brochure.

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Learn from top scientists, engineers, business, computer and medical experts over nearly two weeks, about how Space Industry companies operate, and the skills needed by space engineers. All of the instruction and workshops lead up to the grand finale – the summer camp culminates with a two day competition based on the famous UK Space Design Competition (UKSDC) that has captivated thousands of student for the past dozen years.

Test your technical knowledge as you work to solve genuine space engineering problems and find a solution to a Request For Proposal (The RFP is a detailed specification set by the Foundation Society).

You and your team will be brainstorming to design methods to keep humans alive (and happy) in outer space or on the surface of other worlds, where you’ll integrate solutions with the natural environment.

You will be working with, or help to manage, a large team of dynamic, like-minded friends, as you endeavour to produce a 35 minute presentation in just 24 hours.

Are you up for the space challenge? Do you think you could get yourself on that plane to NASA?

11 selected candidates from the UK and EU can qualify for one of our scholarship schemes.  Will you be the next scientist to represent us at the International Space Settlement Design Competition (ISSDC) at NASA?

Just look at what some of the last competition goers had to say about us!

“I kind of don’t believe what’s happening, but now I’ve finally won I’m so happy. I’ve been a part of this competition for 2 years and to finally win the national finals is great. It would be an honour to represent the UK and I want to thank all of my team for their hard work. Now I’ve got to go and find my voice! I’ve never screamed with happiness so much!” Jan Apolin

“The Space Design Competition is, without a doubt, the single most important thing that has ever happened to me.” Joseph Dudley

“…the extent to which I had the experience of a lifetime, learnt unimaginable amounts about space engineering and design, and how close the team got over the trip is beyond my wildest dreams.”  Kirsty Rodger

“Experiencing the SDC is stressful and challenging, yet many of the participants become so enthralled, they not only return year after year, they veer from what they previously thought they would pursue and opt instead for space science as a new career choice.” Rachel Von Maydell

“The Space Design Competition is the most important thing I did in my schooling” Marsha Long

“I took part in the National round of the space competition in March with the dream of returning to the NASA Kennedy Space Centre where I had taken part (and amazingly been part of the victorious team) in the 25th ISSDC. Although this time my team sadly did not win, both Charlie Warrington and I were lucky enough to be selected to represent the EU in the ISSDC. I am so honoured once again to be able to take part in such an amazing competition which allows us, as students, to explore our favourite subjects in a new and exceptionally challenging forum.  I cannot wait to meet all the interesting people on our team and then to work with them to design a space settlement for 3 days – and quite a few nights! This competition is the opportunity of a lifetime and I am so grateful to have been selected. Roll on the 26th ISSDC…”  Saffron Zainchkovskaya

“When students return from the competition, they often become top of their class in terms of the efficiency of their work and their ability to meet deadlines…Students come back from the competition freshly inspired about (their) career path.” Imran Farzal – Teacher


Come to Imperial College London  to compare your design skills with candidates from all over the world. The GSDC summer camp is a great way for you to make new friends from  across the globe! GSDC have scholarships available to enter their competition, where the prize is to go to the NASA Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the home of the famous space shuttle Atlantis! You may get lucky and see a rocket launch into space! You could be spending your Summer battling it out with some of the brainiest kids in the world in London and at the Kennedy Space Center.


July 13-24th, 2019 at the Imperial College London.


The Global Space Design Challenge is a science, business, automation and engineering, 11 day series of workshops and lectures and is open to students from 14 to 18 years old. Ending in a two competition that will select 10 students to travel NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

Global Space Design Challenge is an intensive two-week residential programme for students from around the world. It offers you the chance to learn from  teachers at Imperial College London and Industry Experts. Imperial College London is the only university in the UK to focus solely on science, engineering, medicine and business.

  • You will have the chance to take your subject knowledge to the next level through a challenging academic programme

  • You will experience a unique opportunity to learn design, presentation and communication skills in an industry setting

  • You will receive professional advice about applying for universities in the UK

  • Elect your own president, marketing director and heads of engineering


The GSDC summer programme July 13-24th ends with a two day competition. From the winning team, 10 participants will then be invited to represent your team at the International Space Settlement Design Competition at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in the summer of 2020. The 2019 UKSDC finals competition saw 250 young people from all over the UK take on the challenge of designing a space settlement in orbit around the Earth-Luna L5 libration point, with the added twist that they had to imagine themselves in the year 2054!

Working in fictional companies of 20-30, the students will combine their scientific knowledge, creativity, intuition and research skills to create a design fulfilling an industry style  RFP.  At the end of the design time, companies will then  present their proposals to the judges, followed by a  session of questioning.

Every year, the judges are impressed by the wealth of technological understanding and innovation that students present; ideas that could one day be applied in the UK space industry.


Global Space Design Challenge is an intensive residential summer programme for the highest achieving students throughout the world. It offers you the chance to learn from academics at a world class university.

This a unique and exciting science, business, medical, computer, design and engineering course culminating in a two day challenge, where you will participate with students from the UK and around the world. The challenge is designed as a simulation of life in industry. A futuristic company called the Foundation Society distributes a Press Release followed by a detailed Request For Proposal. As a participant you will:

  • Work as a team to design a settlement in space, set up to 70 years in the future, and experience the challenges of working in a large industrial company.

  • Have the chance to take your subject knowledge to the next level through a challenging academic program that balances lectures, seminars and a high level of practical work.

  • You will access professional advice and guidance around applying for university study in the UK including tours of University of Oxford and Cambridge, and Imperial College London.

  • You will receive mentoring and talks from world-class academics and industry experts.

  • Meet current undergraduate students and learn about their experience of life at university.

  • You will also enjoy a social programme to help you enjoy your time in London to the fullest.

  • You will receive a certificate of achievement and official letter of completion, along with many special awards, for design, leadership and innovation.

The programme is not just all about learning. You’ll meet like minded students from around the world. Visit some of London’s famous attractions. Tour Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. Meet with leading admissions experts to help you, should you decide to apply.

Don’t waste time, get in touch today to for a scholarship.

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Or go to…GSDC UK and EU Scholarships

How We Think and Learn

How We Think And Learn

Every great advance in science has issued from a new audacity of imagination.

~John Dewey, The Quest for Certainty, 1929

Catherine Twomey Fosnot

Most people assume that learning results from teachers transmitting knowledge: clearly explaining concepts, procedures to be practiced, and facts to be memorized; then testing to assess retention and application, with subsequent feedback. Yet this could not be further from the truth… Continue to read

From Chapter 22 UKSDC book available on Amazon   

Why does the space competition work?


Randall Perry March 30,2018

I am often asked why the Space Design Competition (SDC) format works. Whilst my quick fire response when in the throes of organising an event is often, “It’s all the students’ own work, not ours”; this does belie the research and development that underpins the setting up and running of the events run by the SSEF.

Whether taking place in our competition for younger students, (the Galactic Challenge (GC) has been tailored for 10 -14 year olds), or the hallmark senior competition, the Space Design Competition for those up to the ages 15 – 18, students’ become enthused by the event, and surpass expectations of their teachers and parents. The SDC and GC present participants with a problem that is challenging enough so that they need to apply (metacognitive) strategies to monitor and achieve success, but not so challenging that they become overwhelmed. The provision of mentors that facilitate students to recognise problems and thus achieve solutions is key to SDC and GC methodology. Mentors will encourage planning and monitor the progress throughout the day, but will not give specific answers; rather they will facilitate the students to solve their own questions. In addition to the confidence students acquire from taking part in a competition, they gain soft skills from working in a large team, and self-belief from presenting their completed work, and answering questions from a panel of expert judges. Further development of all these acquired skills beyond the competition is a given.

Many of the underlying principles have been introduced to SDC competitions come from work and research I have completed with Catherine Twomey Fosnot. The following edited excerpt is from the introduction of a chapter we co-wrote in 2005.

Excerpt from Chapter 2 introduction –  Constructivism: A Psychological Theory of Learning by Catherine Twomey Fosnot and Randall Stewart Perry – you can click on the link above to read the chapter in its entirety*

Psychology – the way learning is defined, studied, and understood—underlies much of the curricular and instructional decision-making that occurs in education… Behaviorism is the doctrine that regards psychology as a scientific study of behavior and explains learning as a system of behavioral responses to physical stimuli. Psychologists working within this theory of learning are interested in the effect of reinforcement, practice, and external motivation on a network of associations and learned behaviors. Educators using such a behaviorist framework preplan a curriculum by breaking a content area (usually seen as a finite body of predetermined knowledge) into assumed component parts—“skills”—and then sequencing these parts into a hierarchy ranging from simple to more complex. Assumptions are made that observation, listening to explanations from teachers who communicate clearly, or engaging in experiences, activities, or practice sessions with feedback will result in learning; and, that proficient skills will quantify to produce the whole, or more encompassing concept… Further, learners are viewed as passive, in need of external motivation, and affected by reinforcement; thus, educators spend their time developing a sequenced, well structured curriculum and determining how they will assess, motivate, reinforce, and evaluate the learner. The learner is simply tested to see where he/she falls on the curriculum continuum and then expected to progress in a linear, quantitative fashion as long as clear communication and appropriate motivation, practice, and reinforcement are provided. Progress by learners is assessed by measuring observable outcomes—behaviors on predetermined tasks. The mastery learning model  is a case in point. This model makes the assumption that wholes can be broken into parts, that skills can be broken into sub skills, and that these skills can be sequenced in a “learning line.” Learners are diagnosed in terms of deficiencies, called “needs,” then taught until “mastery”—defined as behavioral competence—is achieved at each of the sequenced levels. Further, it is assumed that if mastery is achieved at each level then the more general concept (defined by the accumulation of the skills) has also been taught. It is important to note the use of the term “skill” here as the outcome of learning and the goal of teaching. The term itself is derived from the notion of behavioral competence. Although few schools today use the mastery learning model rigidly, much of the prevalent traditional educational practice still in place stems from this behaviorist psychology. Behaviorist theory may have implications for changing behavior, but it offers little in the way of explaining cognitive change—a structural change in understanding. Maturationism is a theory that describes conceptual knowledge as dependent on the developmental stage of the learner, which in turn is the result of a natural unfolding of innate biological programming. From this perspective learners are viewed as active meaning-makers, interpreting experience with cognitive structures that are the result of maturation; thus, age norms for these cognitive maturations are important as predictors of behavior… Further, the curriculum is analyzed for its cognitive requirements on learners, and then matched to the learner’s stage of development…
Rather than behaviors or skills as the goal of instruction, cognitive development and deep understanding are the foci; rather than stages being the result of maturation, they are understood as constructions of active learner reorganization. Rather than viewing learning as a linear process, it is understood to be complex and fundamentally non-linear in nature.
Constructivism, as a psychological theory, stems from the burgeoning field of cognitive science, particularly the later work of Jean Piaget just prior to his death in 1980, the socio-historical work of Lev Vygotsky…The remainder of this chapter will present a description of the work of these scientists and then a synthesis will be developed to describe and define constructivism as a psychological theory of evolution and develop.

Continue to read full chapter

*From a book Constructivism: Theory, Perspectives, and Practice. Editor Catherine Twomey Fosnot