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Powerhouse Connects Former NASA Astronaut with Western Sydney High School Students

August 15, 2022

Image: Dr Mary Ellen Weber (centre), Wendy Lindsay, MP East Hills (right), Sophie Poisel, Head of Powerhouse Lang Walker Family Academy (left) and East Hills Girls Technology High School students. Credit: Lyndal Irons


On Friday 12 August, Powerhouse connected scientist and former NASA astronaut Dr Mary Ellen Weber with high school students from Western Sydney and regional NSW through the Powerhouse: Future Space.

As part of the Lang Walker Family Academy In-Schools Program, Powerhouse: Future Space was launched in April 2022 in collaboration with and the NSW Department of Education. Through the program, students from Western Sydney and regional areas can access ground-breaking technologies, advanced educational opportunities, and exposure to international scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs.

Weber was a NASA Astronaut for ten years flying on two Space Shuttle flights including one to the International Space Station. She helped deliver a communications satellite to orbit and was responsible for checking the systems and sending it into its 22,000 mile orbit above the equator. Students from East Hills Girls Technology High School had an opportunity to hear her inspiring recollections from an outstanding STEM career. She also offered insights into the new era of commercial space travel, followed by a Q&A. Regional participating schools Murrumbidgee Regional High School, Maitland Grossmann High School, Beelbangera Public School, Griffith East Public School, Yoogali Public School, Kalinda School, Rankin’s Springs Public School, Whitton Murrami Public School and Yenda Public School joined the presentation virtually.

“The Lang Walker Family Academy was excited to host Dr Mary Ellen Weber as part of our Powerhouse: Future Space program. Since the program launched in April 2022, high school students in Western Sydney and regional NSW have benefitted from unique opportunities to engage with industry experts and the International Space Station through on the ground hands-on experiences and virtual trials,” said Sophie Poisel, Head of Lang Walker Family Academy.

“We are thrilled to be a participating school in the Powerhouse: Future Space program. This initiative provides Western Sydney students with world-class immersive STEM education experiences and learning opportunities directly from industry leaders,” said Jennifer Hardwick, Principal of East Hills Girls Technology High School.

About Powerhouse: Future Space
Powerhouse: Future Space connects Stage 5 students from six Western Sydney local government areas to the International Space Station and a global network of learners through the ExoLab-10 mission. The program has been developed in partnership by Powerhouse, and the NSW Department of Education, with support from Fizzics Education and presented as part of the Lang Walker Family Academy In-Schools Program.

About Lang Walker Family Academy
In one of the largest donations ever to an Australian cultural institution, the Walker Family Foundation donated $20 million to the Lang Walker Family Academy and associated programs, a commitment that will fund access to world-class immersive STEM education experiences at the museum for over 10,000 high school students from Western Sydney and regional NSW every year, including overnight stays at Powerhouse Parramatta for many of these students. The Lang Walker Family Academy programs commenced in early 2022 in Western Sydney with in-school STEM education programming planned for schools in the Blacktown, Campbelltown, Liverpool, Bankstown, Penrith and Parramatta LGAs.

About is an educational company based in Berkeley, California, that operates missions in microgravity aboard the International Space Station for schools, science centres and museums across the world. is an Industry Partner of the NSW Department of Education through the department’s STEM Industry Schools Partnership program and recently completed the collaborative Australian Virtual Astronaut project which connected over 7000 students in 200 schools across Australia.

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Chloe Kang | Powerhouse | 0423 810 860