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National Science and Engineering Week in the East Midlands

by HannahB 18. March 2010 14:08

On Wednesday 17th March the East Midlands STEM Partnership hosted an event as part of National Science and Engineering Week. Students spent the afternoon at the National Space Centre and saw ‘Bridget’, the multi-million pound robot, part of the EXOMars project that will touch down on Mars in 2016 to study the biological environment. Students from Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire participated in some of the 150 interactive master classes held at the National Space Centre. A student from The Long Eaton School, Nottinghamshire, who attended the A-Level Physics master class said; "Today was an experience of a lifetime, most beneficial to further my studies in science".

Prior to visiting the National Space Centre, the day began at Crown Hills Community College in Leicester, where students demonstrated inspiring creative science activities; including Lab 13, a dedicated science space in the school, managed by pupils, for the pupils. Students also experienced Kit in a Kase taking part in some fun, contextual science. The morning concluded with a Come Alive with Science demonstration. Students had the opportunity to design and make their own t-shirts using photochromic paints and LED lights. A student from Crown Hills Community College said “Come Alive with Science is great fun, an enjoyable mixture of different lessons with maths, technology and science lessons".

The event supported National Science and Engineering Week (12-21 March) and was an opportunity to promote some of the fantastic STEM activities taking place across the East Midlands, many of which are funded by the East Midlands Development Agency. Other activities across the region included Lab in a Lorry, a mobile lab giving students the chance to explore science hands-on, which visited Montsaye School in Northamptonshire. Students at Montsaye, learnt how oil is extracted from its source and participated in experiments involving frequency and sound.  Year 9 students from Haven High Technology College, Lincolnshire hosted a screening of their film about climate change ‘Enter the Future’ as part of the Come Alive with Science programme.

Space Exploration Education Conference 2010, Houston - Day 2

by Guest Blogger: SarahH 8. February 2010 09:36

 

4 Feb 2010, Day Two

The first day of the conference started with a VIP tour of Mission Control at the Johnson Space Centre.  We were able to observe a mission control crew training for an up and coming shuttle mission in the white flight control room.  We then moved on to watch the International Space Station (ISS) controllers who are incharge of maintaining continuous contact with the ISS.  While on this part of the tour we were shown live feeds of a soyuz supply vehicle catching up with the ISS to dock in the next 24 hours.  We also watched sun rise and moon set from live camera feeds on the ISS.  The personal highlight of the tour was being able to visit historic mission control - the roon where the Apollo Missions were controlled.  I quickley found the Capsule Commander desk where Charlie Duke worked during the historic Apollo 11 first landing on the moon.  Charlie had recently visited the National Space Centre in Leicester so I was very keen to see where he sat during those amazing times.

The afternoon at the conference gave us our first opportunity to present to delegates.  After an intensive 2 hour slot, the teachers were thoroughly enthused and impressed with the British teaching ideas and demonstration incorporating space and earth observation science.  Day one ended with a keynote talk from astronaut Ricky Arnold who was a Mission Specialist on STS-119 which was a successful shuttle mission to bring full power to the ISS by installing a new set of solar arrays.  I will never get board of listening to stories surrounding space missions, they are always truely inspirational!

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Space Exploration Education Conference 2010, Houston - Day 1

by Guest Blogger: SarahH 5. February 2010 10:23

3 Feb 2010, Day One

A very excited Space Academy Project Manager, Lead Educator and Project Scientist boarded a flight for Houston bound for the Space Exploration Educators Conference at the Johnson Space Center.  The team, along with Space Academy Project Director, are due to present workshops showcasing teacher CPD developed by the Space Academy.  As part of the conference the team will take part in a number of tours around NASA's Mission Control and Ellington Fields Air Force Base to get a real insight into the workings of NASA and its Astronaut Corps. 

Its safe to say that we are all exceptionally excited at this opportunity to present at a world class conference and to get the chance to visit such an inspirational and historical place.

 

Guest Blogger: Dr Sarah Hill, Project Manager, National Space Centre.

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Space Academy Competition 2010

by Guest Blogger: SarahH 4. December 2009 14:06

The Space Academy Competition 2010 has been officially launched! 

This year the competition is split into two categories:  Years 12 + 13 and Years 9 – 11.The Years 12 + 13 top prize is a fully funded place at the European Space Camp in northern Norway (www.spacecamp.no) with five runner-up prizes of places at Senior Space School UK.  The theme of the competition is “Mars – The Destiny of Humankind?” and the students are asked to submit an entry linked in with their curriculum studies investigating how our understanding of the red planet has changed over the years and if Mars could become a second home for the human race.The Year 9 – 11 competition has 15 fully funded places at Space School UK available as prizes (www.spaceschooluk.org).  The theme for this competition is “So you want to be an Astronaut?” where students are asked to include curriculum science in their entry discussing what it’s like to be an astronaut. 

Last years competition saw some outstanding projects which came in many different formats from detailed and well researched essays to beautifully presented posters crammed with curriculum focused information and we are hoping for more excellent entries this year. 

For more information please contact Sarah Hill () or visit the website www.ukspaceacademy.org  

Guest Bloger: Sarah Hill, National Space Centre

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One of only twelve men to walk on the moon lands in Leicester

by Guest Blogger: CathyB 25. November 2009 09:40

On Friday 20th November, a lucky group of over 80 school students from across the UK met Charlie Duke, the NASA astronaut who became the tenth and youngest man to walk on the moon in 1972. This was the fantastic finale for the day at the National Space Centre in Leicester during which the students participated in workshops linked to space exploration, astronomy and physics, supported by STEM Ambassadors from local businesses. The strong message that these young people were given throughout the day was that they will be able to find lots of opportunities in the thriving UK space industry and that one of them might even become a British astronaut.

In the evening, Charlie Duke spoke to an invited audience of 500 at the University of Leicester.

Charlie Duke described his amazing experiences on Apollo missions, how his STEM skills helped him in his role, and how he is able to encourage and inspire young people to reach their goals and beyond.

I was fascinated to hear about how it felt to go into space and to walk on the moon from one of the very few people who has experienced it. The astronauts obviously had a bit of fun on the moon. The audience enjoyed the story about Charlie Duke and his fellow astronaut trying their ‘Space Olympics’. Mission control scolded him when he fell over after attempting a high jump. Damage to your backpack could prove fatal and getting up on the moon is not easy.

These events were organised by STEMNET, the National Space Centre and the University of Leicester.

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CareersFest 2009

by Guest Blogger: SarahH 13. November 2009 16:02

On Monday 9th November the Space Academy held a careers event dedicated to the UK space and aerospace industries.  150 post-16 science and engineering students from all over the East Midlands travelled to the National Space Centre in Leicester for a day of presentations given by leading space research institutes and industry members.  The afternoon session saw the launch of the Space Academy Competition and a showing of We Are Astronomers, the National Space Centre’s newest Space Theatre planetarium show.  Dr Lewis Dartnell from University College London gave the keynote presentation on the subject of Astrobiology and the search for alien life which gave all the participants a new perspective into life on our own planet. 

Planning is now focusing on the Space Academy Year 10 Careers Event taking place on Monday 28th June 2010 and Monday 5th July 2010 to make sure they are as successful as this post-16 event. 

For more information please contact Sarah Hill,

Guest Blogger Sarah Hill, National Space Centre

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Teenagers take the Plunge!

by Guest Blogger: STEM Student Journalist 14. October 2009 15:53

Students from Space School UK aged 13-15, took the plunge in a scuba experience, to understand the weightless feeling of being in space. 

Astronauts prepare for ‘space missions’ walking activities, by using micro gravity simulations. The most common method of imitating the weightlessness feeling, felt on extra vehicular activities, is the neutral buoyancy simulator (NBS, scuba diving). This creates a similar effect to microgravity. When in neutral buoyancy, you are neither sinking, nor floating, just simply suspended in a liquid. Scuba diving is essential in astronaut training, and nearly any task in NBS can be performed in space. Astronaut training facilities all have a large swimming pool for experiencing weightlessness.  

Another weightlessness simulation is the “vomit comet”, which gives a feeling of weightless for approximately 25 seconds of the flight, which normally lasts 2 hours. The weightless sensation is created in space because there are no forces exerted on it, not because there is no gravity, as it only decreases by about 12%. The same feelings are created in the state of freefall. It creates the weightlessness feeling, because the pull of gravity is equal to the rate you are falling at. 

When we arrived at the pool, we were firstly given a talk about scuba diving, and the health and safety rules involved. After this we were given our equipment, which was then fitted. After this we finally got into the pool.  I found the scuba training challenging, as you’re not allowed to hold your breath under water without breathing out, if you hold your breath it could be dangerous. This was challenging as you normally told the opposite. I also found the experience exciting, as I’d never had the chance to stay under water for so long. 

As we started to try and swim along, I found the weights attached (which were there to remain in neutral buoyancy), very unstable. This made me turn around, and as I had all the heavy equipment as well, I found it hard to keep stability. After a while I got used to the equipment, and had another weight attached to equal the forces out. After everyone had finished their training, and had taken a lap round the pool, we began our mission to fix our moon buggy in a 30 minute time limit. The objective was that the buggy had broken when it hit the moon, and the pieces were scattered around the pool which we had to fetch. 

The instructions stated that you are only allowed to carry two items at a time, while the other team members built the Lander.  I found it fun but hard to communicate, as we could only rely on hand signals. We managed to complete our mission, and took the fixed moon buggy to the surface. I found the experience amazing, and I would love to do it again.

Guest Blogger: Amber Coggins,STEM Student Journalist ,Walton Girls High School, Grantham

Space School 2009

by Guest Blogger: STEM Student Journalist 22. September 2009 16:37

Photo: Jennifer Pounds

At first I didn't know what to expect from Space School, would it be all work and no games? Would I make friends easily? And how would the food be? These were the questions buzzing in my mind on the way to the halls. But they very soon disappeared. As the week started it became the ultimate fun and learning experience! Other than space school when in your entire life would you do activities like skydiving and scuba diving within one week? And creating thunder in the lecture theatres made it clear that these were not your standard university lectures. Smashing up marshmallows and making telescopes and comets were just a few of the experiments we did in the university labs and at the space centre.  

Meeting other people that were top in their fields was one thing but actually being lectured by them was another. The mentors were as mad, if not madder than us, they were people who knew how to have fun, they created massive liquid nitrogen bombs where the boom could be heard for miles around! Our days were packed with sessions on exoplanets, cryogenics, satellites, black holes, master classes at the Space Centre, visits to EADS Astrium and Rockets workshops on the final days where we made real rockets with engines in them! 
 
By far the worst part was leaving and saying good-bye to all, even the guys who thought they were tough had tears coming down their faces.
 
Space school was a great eye-opening experience for me and one that I will certainly never ever forget. I met some really great people across the country and in some cases around the world in that one week, people who I will keep contact with my entire life.
 
And the Best bit was that no-one would think you are weird because you like Physics, because you're all like-minded!

Guest Blogger: Bella Chotaliya - Year 13 at Wyggeston and Queen Elizabeth I College, Leicester

Lutterworth College students report on their Mars Yard Challenge

by Guest Blogger 19. August 2009 11:07

The Space Centre set us a challenge to make a buggy capable of following a white line across the surface of their mars yard. We were given a brief to follow, but the rest was up to us and our imaginations. 

At first we toyed with many ideas for our Martian rover, such as; wheels, tracks, split chassis and even hover crafts before settling on our final idea of a three wheeled buggy. 

One way we were different to the other teams was our choice to use a plastic base plate, as this would give us strength and support without compromising weight. This suited us better because aluminium, although light, would not give much structural support to the components that would have to have been mounted to it.   

We finished our buggy before the other teams and set about helping them to reach the deadline. When the day of testing on the Mars Yard finally came, we and the buggy were ready. We sent a few minuets adjusting our LDRs, torch head and the lights of the Mars Yard itself. After these minor tweaks, we reached success with our buggy being the only one to beat the 30° gradient and following the white line perfectly. 

Through this project we picked up many transferable skills, not only to use in engineering, but in other subjects and later life as well.  We’d like to a very big thank you to the space centre for letting us take part in this project and we hope we get a chance for similar projects in the future.

Guest Bloggers: Ohm’s Army, Lutterworth College

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Volcanic Eruptions and Hurricanes!

by Guest Blogger 2. July 2009 11:41

Year 12 Geology students at Beauchamp College save the Island of Montserrat……

Year 12 Geology students recently took part in an e-mission run by the National Space Centre. This was a simulated exercise based on real data from the September 1996 eruption of the Soufriere Hills volcano and the threat of devastation by a hurricane.

After spending time practising the techniques needed for the Hurricane, Volcano and Earthquake Teams, Mission Day arrived. The students set to work immediately on the data they received and started feeding back to Mission Control. After a couple of early hiccups, they were soon up to speed. The students worked very hard to analyse the data they were given and make recommendations to the Evacuation Team, who began their task of keeping the Islanders safe. They worked well as teams under pressure and they had a great opportunity to put their geological knowledge into practice. A great learning experience!

In terms of the result: let’s just say we should be glad we weren’t living on the island at the time….!

Guest Blogger: Miss Young, Head of Geology, Beauchamp College, Leicester

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Disclaimer

The views expressed in this Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the positions or policies of the East Midlands STEM Partnership, its partners or funders, including East Midlands Development Agency.

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