Workshop inspires CanSat teachers

Setting up the kit
15 December 2011

Teachers from 15 countries recently gathered at ESA’s European Space Technology and Research Centre (ESTEC) in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, to learn more about the challenges facing their teams of students during the 2012 European CanSat competition.

The CanSats in Europe programme is aimed at providing European secondary school students with an hands-on opportunity to build and launch mock satellites as small as a soda can, and so learn about basic physics and engineering concepts.

Teachers from the high school teams that were selected in October were able to attend the workshop on 2-3 December. The multinational gathering included representatives from Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, England, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Scotland and Spain.

The introductory workshop, organised by ESA’s Education Office and the Norwegian Centre for Space-related Education (NAROM), gave the team leaders the opportunity to meet and introduce their teams to each other. The teachers also had the opportunity to visit the ESTEC Test Centre and the local space museum - Space Expo. However, the main objective of the two-day event was to educate them about the basic steps in building a CanSat and how to accomplish their mission objectives.

Coding the software

With the assistance of experts from NAROM, they were able to learn about the key aspects of how to build and fly successfully one of these tiny scientific payloads.

The subjects covered during the workshop included:

  • Sensors and signalling;
  • Data handling and data transmission;
  • Setting up a CanSat kit and installing software;
  • Introduction to CanSat programming;
  • How to build a sensor;
  • How to test and integrate a sensor;
  • How to test software code;
  • How to establish radio control with the CanSat.

Both the organisers and the teachers expressed their satisfaction with the way in which all of the teams were able to work together and help each other, whilst contributing to the creation of a friendly and motivated atmosphere.

“It was very important for us because we needed to learn how to build the satellite, but also because it was wonderful to get to know our colleagues a bit,” said one of the team leaders.

Background information

A CanSat kit

The launch campaign for the second European CanSat competition, which is organised by ESA’s Education Office, in collaboration with the Norwegian Centre for Space-related Education (NAROM), will take place 22-26 April 2012.

Over the coming months, the chosen teams, each from a different European country, will build their own small ‘can-satellite’, with the help of a ready-to-compose satellite kit. The ultimate objective of each team is to launch one of these CanSats from the Andøya Rocket Range in Norway. After the rocket soars to an altitude of about 1 km, the CanSats will be released to conduct their missions, eventually returning to Earth where they will be recovered by the student teams.

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