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European Astro Pi Challenge: Inspiring young women in science


Uploaded on February 15, 2019


European Astro Pi Challenge: Inspiring young women in science

2019-02-15 – CSA astronaut Jenni Sidey-Gibbons encourages young people to participate in the European Astro Pi Challenge. Learn more about the women who were her role models and made their mark in the history of space exploration, particularly in coding.

The European Astro Pi Challenge is a European Space Agency education program run in collaboration with the Raspberry Pi Foundation. It offers young people the amazing opportunity to conduct scientific investigations in space by writing computer programs that run on Raspberry Pi computers on board the International Space Station. (Credits: Canadian Space Agency, ESA, Raspberry Pi Foundation)

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Jenni Sidey: I wanted to be an astronaut when I was really young. So I was around three or four years old when Canada’s first female astronaut Roberta Bondar flew on a shuttle mission. And I remember my mom really emphasized how important that was. We watched her mission, we had clippings from newspapers, I had a scrapbook about Roberta Bondar, so I had this influence really early on that I wanted to be an astronaut.

Coding has been integral to space exploration, it’s been incredibly important. And that dates back to early lunar missions, when we were in the Apollo program and Margaret Hamilton coded the lander program for Apollo 11. I mean, that history is incredible and we’ve used it before then and since then to complete so many tasks which we have automated or with astronauts assisting or ground assisting, but coding is really at the centre of all of that. And as we move forward and go and explore places that are further away, we’re gonna need to rely on coding new programs, artificial intelligence more and more. I think that’s incredibly exciting.

I think students should participate in the European Astro Pi challenge because it just gives that initial exposure to coding and to science and technology really early on.

So my first experience with coding was when I was in university, so I must have been eighteen or nineteen when I had that first experience. But students who participate in this challenge will have that exposure much much earlier, and the earlier you can get a handle on what coding is and how you can use it, the better.


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