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[19th June 2018]

Life on Mars: Harrow pupils win national space challenge

A team of Harrow pupils are reaching for the stars after winning a national competition to design a spacecraft for NASA.

The four young scientists from Alpha Prep School are the team winners of this year’s Generation Beyond Challenge - organised by Lockheed Martin and Discovery Education.

The challenge - a UK first - was launched to schools last year as part of a new STEM education programme to inspire the next generation of astronauts. Children were asked to stretch their imagination by designing a habitation module for Orion, the NASA spacecraft which will take the first crew to Mars in the 2030s.

Alpha Prep pupils Helia Najafi (9), Veer Thakkar (11), Krisha Shah (11) and Adithya Raghuraman (10) scooped the top prize with ‘Andromeda’, a colourful 3D model for astronauts to live and work on the planet Mars. With details including an artificial gravity shower, judges said that the children’s design showed “fantastic teamwork and inspiration”.

9-year-old team leader Helia Najafi said:

I was overwhelmed with excitement when I found out we had won the competition. I love science, learning about space and using telescopes and winning this competition was the most elating news!

Krisha Shah, 11, said:

I decided to enter this competition as I am very interested in astronomy and aspire to be an astronaut. I was absolutely amazed and speechless when I received an email from Generation Beyond saying that we won, especially because it was my birthday!

Alpha Prep School hosted a special celebration assembly for the pupils and their parents during which Patrick Wood, Director of International Business Development at Lockheed Martin Space, presented the team with their prizes. The children received iPads and science magazine subscriptions, plus a £5000 STEM grant for the school.

Mr Gonsalves, Head of Science and Computing at Alpha Prep School said:

We are absolutely over the moon with the Generation Beyond win! I hope that Team Andromeda’s success will inspire all pupils at the school to see STEM as an integral part of their future studies.

Over 160 children from across the UK took part in the Generation Beyond Challenge. Pupils entered individually or as a team, presenting their ideas in a short video. A judging panel of space scientists, teachers and academics chose two winning entries. The Generation Beyond Individual Prize was awarded to Jedd Fiander from Barrow Hills School in Surrey.

Patrick Wood, Director International Business Development for Lockheed Martin Space said:

Our children make up a generation that will change our universe forever. These young people are the generation that will walk on Mars, explore deep space and unlock mysteries that we can’t yet imagine. And that’s why it’s so important to us to help schools to encourage children to consider careers in STEM. I was so impressed by the creativity these pupils showed and the complexity of their designs and I’m excited about what this generation will bring to future space missions.

The Generation Beyond Programme continues to inspire the next generation of astronauts, by bringing the science of space into primary classrooms across the UK. Combining the expertise of Lockheed Martin and Discovery Education, the programme provides a complete space curriculum, bringing pupils ever closer to a new era of space exploration, and helping teachers to ignite interest in STEM subjects and careers.

Lockheed Martin has supported every NASA mission to Mars over the last four decades and is currently developing technologies to send humans to deep space in the 2030s. Discovery Education is one of the UK’s leading digital learning services, providing dynamic content which enriches the delivery of STEM education.

Generation Beyond was launched in the US in August 2016, where it has already reached over 1.5 million students.

The programme is available at no cost to schools, and teachers are encouraged to register at

About Lockheed Martin

Lockheed Martin UK, headquartered in London, is the UK-based arm of Lockheed Martin, a global security and aerospace company that employs approximately 100,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services.

Discover more about Generation Beyond at

About Discovery Education

As the global leader in standards-based digital content for K-12 classrooms worldwide, Discovery Education is transforming teaching and learning with award-winning digital textbooks, multimedia content, professional learning, and the largest professional learning community of its kind. Serving 4.5 million educators and over 50 million students, Discovery Education’s services are available in approximately half of U.S. classrooms, 50 percent of all primary schools in the UK, and more than 50 countries around the globe. Inspired by the global media company Discovery Inc., Discovery Education partners with districts, states, and like-minded organizations to captivate students, empower teachers, and transform classrooms with customized solutions that increase academic achievement.

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