EXPLORING GALAXIES: St Marys College student Jackson Whitney, 15, from Casino went to the space camp in Canberra.
EXPLORING GALAXIES: St Marys College student Jackson Whitney, 15, from Casino went to the space camp in Canberra. Susanna Freymark

Meet the Casino boy chosen to work with people from NASA

THE criteria to go on the YMCA Space Camp was - "you need to be enthusiastic about space and be a person who loves learning about space".

Chatting to 15-year-old Jackson Whitney it is easy to see why the St Mary's College student was the only person chosen in the Northern Rivers to attend the space camp in Canberra.

"My maths teacher discovered the camp and she recommended me to go on it because of STEM at school," Jackson said.

STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and maths. Jackson is good at all of them and science is his favourite subject. He was only back from the camp for a few days and he was still glowing from the experience.

"It was cool to work with people who work for NASA," he said.

One of 47 students from across Australia, he said they flew drones, designed rockets and used the UNSW program that the university's astroengineers used to design satellites.

The first day included team building exercises and then it was time to get into space.

"They spoke about astrophysics, astronomy and deep-space exploration," Jackson said.

The student hopes to one day being a mechanical launch engineer for Space X, the company owned by Elon Musk.

"I loved the camp, I recommend it," he said to anyone thinking of applying next year.

He is, of course a fan of physicist Stephen Hawking. His screen saver is a quote from Hawking: "Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be Curious."

What was it about space that fascinated the Casino boy? "Not knowing what's out there. Exploring the galaxies," Jackson said.