Brainy schoolgirls make engineering shortlist

Rachel Barham and Issy George launch the weather balloon
Rachel Barham and Issy George launch the weather balloon
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TWO pupils have been short-listed for a national award.

Rachel Barham and Issy George, both 15, and pupils at Portsmouth High School have been short-listed for the Talent 2030 National Schools Engineering Competition for Girls.

They have won praise for their project about space debris, remains from old satellites or collisions.

Now it will be showcased at the Big Bang Fair at the NEC in Birmingham on March 18 when prizes will be dished out.

Rachel said: ‘We found out that an object as small as a paint fleck can cause serious damage – and could cause a threat to structures such as the International Space Station or even Earth in the future.

‘We came up with a solution which removes space debris from the atmosphere – funded by sponsors who then receive the item of debris once it has been returned to earth.

‘We decided to test a prototype for our design with an ambitious experiment – launching a weather balloon 90,000 feet into near space. We were worried about whether we would be able to pull this off, but in the end everything came together, and we launched our balloon.

‘The flight lasted around two hours and achieved more than our target altitude which was great.’

The pair collected the balloon – but the camera was stuck up a 30ft tree.

‘We are excited to have reached the finals,’ Rachel said.