Eureka Cup 2007 takes off!
How do you land a probe on the surface of a planet without crash-landing? Can you power a Moon rover without using solar power or electricity? These are the kind of questions being tackled by around 50 classes of lower secondary school children in the Netherlands competing to win spectacular prizes in the Eureka Cup 2007.
Over the coming months hundreds of Dutch pupils aged 12 to 15 are exploring our Solar System, learning about how technology and physics are essential in the discovery and exploration of other planets and moons.
Teachers from 33 schools registered to participate in the contest were recently invited to take a look behind the scenes at ESA's research and technology centre, ESTEC, in Noordwijk, the Netherlands. During a workshop at the Space Expo visitor centre and a guided tour of the ESTEC facilities, the teachers were prepared for the task ahead, and the contest was formally started.
As further preparation, throughout the next couple of months the school classes are invited to attend 'Get ready for launch' workshops hosted by the nine participating universities located throughout the Netherlands.
Between April and May, the schoolchildren will have to start exploring the Solar System for themselves. Using all the knowledge they have gathered they will try to solve one of six challenges.
One of the tasks is sponsored by ESA and involves designing a vehicle that can move across the surface of the Moon without using electricity or solar power. The winning rover will be the one that travels the furthest!
For another task called 'Smooth landing', the students are asked to design a probe which can land on the surface of the Moon - and then the real challenge - a scale model has to be able to lower an egg without breaking it.
The activities will culminate on 24 May 2007 during 'Eureka! Day'. Cheered on by their classmates, the groups with the best ideas will compete against each other to win fabulous prizes - including the chance to experience weightlessness during a parabolic flight. There will also be an opportunity to meet ESA astronaut André Kuipers at the exciting finale.