Willyama High School Year 10 student Esther Wenham has been selected as the Australian Female Ambassador for this year’s United Space School (USS) Program in Houston, Texas in July.
The program brings together 50 high school students from 25 different nations to plan a mission to Mars at the University of Clear Lake, with Australia’s female student traditionally selected from Broken Hill high schools, while the male candidate is selected from Perth.
Esther says she’s looking forward to the opportunity to attend the USS Program and to be representing the community and country – even if she does prefer life on earth!
“I’m honoured and really excited to be going and travelling to America and getting lots of different new experiences, just excited to try something new and challenge myself in a new way,” Esther tells us.
“I’m the only girl from Australia, which is really quite weird to think about. I’m just really grateful for the opportunity and lucky to be chosen and to representing the Broken Hill community.”
“It was weird because I have never really had a huge thing for space. I kind of like being on earth, but the opportunity came up and I thought I’d like to try something new. I do like science and maths and most subjects at school. I don’t really know what I want to do career-wise, so I think it will kind of help me see what I like to do.”
The two-week program means students experience NASA’s Johnson Space Centre while under the mentorship of engineers, scientists and leaders in the aerospace industry.
As part of the Manned Mission to Mars Project, students are divided into teams, each with a specific goal and function – Mission Control, Mars Operation and Logistics, Mars Transit, Mars Habitation and Mars Exploration – forming part of a larger system and final presentation.
But, before she goes stateside, there are some foundation assignments Esther must complete for the program, a workload she’ll need to manage alongside her current schoolwork and fundraising for the trip.
“Before I go, I’ve got five assignments to do, focusing on different areas of space travel like the biology of it and the actual space travel component, growing things, being able to survive. So, I have assignments to do that will help me see which bit I like the most and that will put me into a team of people from around the world that I’ll be working with when I’m there.”
Most of the costs associated with the trip have to be covered by Esther’s family and through donations. If you would like to support Esther’s trip financially, you can make direct payment to Willyama High School by calling them on 8088 1055.
“Thank you very much to the Broken Hill University Department of Rural Health and the community of Broken Hill, who will be supporting me to get there,” says Esther.