This year, the Brighton Secondary School science teacher tasked her class with designing and building a self-contained ecosystem that could potentially sustain life on other planets. 

The “mini worlds” project is the culmination of a biology investigation, in which the South Australian students have been looking at the evolution of Earth and the ecosystems that support life.

Moyle’s class used computer design tools and 3D printing technology to develop and prototype their own terrariums, with a view to investigating their application for future worlds.

And if they were fazed by the challenge of what could be a potential NASA mission, the students didn’t show it.

Moyle says the class dove into the project, ready to explore new ideas and make mistakes.

That’s what science is all about, she says; and as an accomplished scientist herself, she should know.

Moyle had completed a doctorate in neuroscience and was working as a lab manager in a local school when she decided to make the transition into full-time teaching.

“[I was spending] a lot of time trying to build the science areas into interesting and interactive sort of spaces, and really enjoyed working with kids and seeing that sort of ‘wow’ factor,” she says.

While Moyle’s students can attest to the “interesting” and “interactive” nature of mini worlds, the teacher is quick to point out that they are still learning along the way.

“...in terms of the curriculum we are hitting markers in Year 10 with the Earth and Space Sciences ... [and] a lot of this stuff comes through in stage one and two for SACE [and] the senior ACARA standards.”

Moyle was recently invited to present the project at this year’s International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide where she demonstrated how the project could be successfully implemented into the high school science curriculum.