In July, 11 students who have chosen to study STEM subjects at KS5 from different Leicester City schools took part in an intensive 2 week event organised by the Space Academy programme in association with four partner organisations; EADS Astrium, RAF Henlow, Magna Parva and Infoterra. This inspiring experience gave these students an insight into the range of space based STEM careers available and the working lives of Space Scientists, as well as to help them improve key skills and qualities needed for future STEM careers.
At the National Space Centre participants attended a careers event where they had the opportunity to find out more about some of UK’s top space science and engineering companies and gain perspective on the true scale of the space industry within the UK. They took part in a hands on curriculum focused space science masterclass, saw a comet nucleus made as they learnt about Near Earth Objects (comets/asteroids with the potential to impact Earth at some future date) and worked with the Education team and Creative Services team at the National Space Centre to gain an insight into their careers. They also took part in a workshop on presentation skills where they experienced what it is like presenting a video conference and gained an invaluable insight into the importance of pitching presentations to the right level.
At Magna Parva a session was held with several engineers detailing what is involved in a space engineering role. Infoterra showed the application and interpretation of satellite data through the medium of several hands on computer activities. EADS Astrium provided a hands on space materials workshop as well as a tour of the facility and a behind the scenes look in their Mars Yard facility. This afforded an opportunity to meet ‘Bruno’, one of the ExoMars test rovers and to ask questions of Paul Meacham one of the engineers working on the project. Finally RAF Henlow (the UK’s Centre for Aviation Medicine) gave an insight into the physiological effects of high altitude, low pressure flying on the human body and the analogies this has to space travel. The experience was rounded off with participants presenting their projects to an audience of National Space Centre Employees, members of the Space Academy Partner organisations and academic staff from the Space Research Centre at the University of Leicester. The students were amazing, impressing everyone there with their maturity, professionalism and enthusiasm, and the experience really helped to focus their ideas with regards to entering various STEM careers.