GCSE space qualification launched

Published Friday, 17 January 2014
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Northern Ireland's stellar students have been reaching for the stars after the UK's first space science technology qualification was launched.

GCSE space qualification launched
The space industry in Northern Ireland has taken off. (© Getty)

The GCSE covers the diet and health of astronauts, mapping, the geology of planets and provides insight into an industry which contributes around £9 billion a year to the economy and supports tens of thousands of jobs.

Pupils in Northern Ireland began studying for the innovative award at the beginning of the academic year.

Expert, Dr Leslie Orr said the course could help develop and grow the space industry in Northern Ireland.

He said: "To do this we need to develop the skills and interest in the sector. The timing of this qualification is right."

Interest in space science has been generated by the accomplishments of people like Nobel physics prize winner Professor Peter Higgs, who discovered the Higgs boson, and the exploits of popular astronauts like the retired commander of the International Space Station Chris Hadfield.

Commander Hadfield rose to prominence after he tweeted pictures of Ireland from the International Space Station.

He was recently in Northern Ireland to help promote tourism and his new book.

The Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA) worked with Invest NI and the Aerospace Defence and Security Industries Northern Ireland organisation to develop the qualification.

It will give learners the necessary skills and expertise to work in the growing space industry.

CCEA chief executive Richard Hanna said space science technology represented a fantastic opportunity for teachers to develop an exciting new approach to delivering the science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects.

The Northern Ireland Space Special Interest Group was formed during the summer to aid efforts by local companies to benefit from what the government's science and technology committee described as "one of our economy's fastest growing sectors".

Dr Orr manages ADS NI, a trade organisation representing the aerospace, defence, security and space industries.

He said Northern Ireland could build on its history of aerospace, with Canadian firm Bombardier operating for 100 years in the region, and added that the space industry offered opportunities for a wide range of industries.

© UTV News
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5 Comments
Belfast in Belfast wrote (228 days ago):
Brilliant!!! Aeronautics is one of ni leading businesses in 20 years astronautics will be up there this will be amazing hopefully this will bring a new space age and ni at the forefront!!
j in s wrote (228 days ago):
yep
Bob in Antrim wrote (228 days ago):
Yeah teaching kids about science and technology of the future is a waste of money but the teachings about an imaginary man in the sky is a sound investment? I think this is a great idea maybe a good chance to get kids interested in school again.
neil in Planet Earth in the Milkyway Galaxy wrote (228 days ago):
wasting money? really that is an idiotic and obviously uneducated view. This is giving the youth of NI the chance to learn and gain interest in a subject that doesn't come to most until university it is also a subject that can further humanity. It's much better to have something like this taught for GCSE than a fictional subject like RE which has attempted to indoctrinate kids with falsehoods and myths.
l in Belfast wrote (228 days ago):
Wasting more money
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