Brampton students win prestigious contest, recognized by international scientific community


Published April 17, 2024 at 1:58 pm

Peel Student Science

The Region of Peel has left a massive mark on the international scientific community, as students from Central Peel Secondary School (CPSS) in Brampton have taken first place in the Gerard K. O’Neil Space Settlement Contest.

The contest itself, which was put on by the National Space Society (formerly NASA), was designed to test the skills of young minds as they problem-solved in theoretical space settings. 

According to the Peel District School Board, students from CPSS swept the competition by claiming first place alongside numerous other accolades. Beyond that, these students were the only Canadian representatives in a pool of over 29,000 students from 28 countries who all participated in the contest. 

Simona Matei, the advisor of the Space Club and Head of Mathematics at CPSS, is beyond proud of her students, as they have set new standards for the involvement of young Canadians in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Medicine) fields.

“These 51 students of mine, are the only Canadians recognized in this contest, that makes everything they did even more impressive. In addition to that, this is a contest that has been traditionally male-dominated, so as a result, I made an intentional effort to involve more girls,” Matei told 

All of the winning teams represented by CPSS were female, resulting in 22 young women from Ontario taking center stage. As for the fundamentals of the contest, Matei was more than ready to describe what each team had to accomplish and the associated complexity of each task. 

“The students are tasked to design a space settlement that orbits a certain planet in a solar system. This specifically involves the science that incorporates energy and mechanical systems,” says Matei.

“It also involves all aspects of life, such as government food and education. It’s interdisciplinary and gives students with many abilities a chance to participate.” 

After this year’s massive success — coupled with the showcase displayed by young female students — Matei hopes that CPSS will continue to lead by example and inspire other Ontario school boards to push for more engagement in events similar to the Gerard K. O’Neil Space Settlement Contest.

“We have to be more intentional about this and I hope more schools come on board. This will assist those who have a passion for education — and beyond that —an interest in independent learning. Because at the end of the day, these are fantastic opportunities,” says Matei. 

Whatever the future holds, it would appear that the students at Central Peel Secondary School are clearing the way for future generations in Ontario to shoot for the stars. 

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