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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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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

Space Academy Competition Winners Announced

by Guest Blogger: SarahH 4. June 2009 09:36

30 East Midland’s students have been selected as Space Academy competition winners.  Each lucky winner will receive a fully funded place on Space School UK which is run at the University of Leicester in August. 

Over 75 entries were received all covering the required theme “So you want to be an Astronaut”, the competition brief also asked for the projects to be linked with the science the students are studying at school.  The project entries took many different formats from detailed and well researched essays to beautifully presented posters crammed with curriculum focused information.  Some of the more creative students produced rockets to display facts on astronaut training and how rockets work plus we even had a model of the moon!  The media savvy amongst the entrants produced high quality films to convey the required subject content. 

The judging panel consisted of Anu Ojha (Director of Education at the National Space Centre), Dr Tracey Dickens (Head of Space School UK) and me …Dr Sarah Hill (Space Academy Project Manager.)  We were impressed by the quality of the entries and the large amount of time students had put into researching and presenting their projects. 

We all hope that the winners thoroughly enjoy their time at Space School UK this summer and return to school in the autumn fully fired up for their STEM subjects. 

Guest Blogger: Sarah Hill

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Space Academy Teacher Conference

by Guest Blogger: Anu Ojha 14. April 2009 13:33

More than 40 East Midlands teachers recently gave up the first three days of the Easter holidays to boldly go where no UK teachers had gone before – as participants in the UK’s first Space Conference for Science Teachers. Organised as part of the emda-funded Space Academy project, this groundbreaking conference was held at the University of Leicester’s Science Learning Centre East Midlands and the National Space Centre.

Delegates had a non-stop schedule for the three days including:

  • Seminars from Europe’s leading space scientists including Professor Terry Moore (University of Nottingham) and Professor Martin Barstow (University of Leicester)

  • Taking part in masterclass sessions led by some of the region’s leading science teachers and Space Academy project scientists

  • Participating in simulated space missions as mission controllers and spacecraft crew members Launching rockets

  • Handling a piece of Mars which may hold clues as to whether or not life ever existed on the Red Planet

  • Seeing the latest prototype of Europe’s ExoMars rover “Bruno” which has been undergoing testing at the National Space Centre

The conference ended with an excellent presentation from Dr Simon Singh on “The Big Bang” and as a final extra treat, were invited to participate in further training at the University of Umea in Sweden in 2010.  

Dr Sarah Hill, Space Academy Project Manager, said “This was an amazing opportunity for teachers to improve their own space related subject knowledge plus learn some exciting new experiments for the classroom.  The feedback has been really positive and we’re already planning next year’s conference which will be bigger and better”.  

 

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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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