Budding astronauts have been given a fascinating insight into a career in outer space.
Redcar & Cleveland College teamed up with Saltburn School to lay on several activities as part of Science Week, a promotional campaign to get youngsters interested in the subject.
Pupils worked in a science lab at adjoining Huntcliff School, where they got their first glimpse of a Bunsen burner and explored the properties of various materials such as sand, wood, salt water and stone. They also got the opportunity to quiz Jim Penketh, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) coordinator at Redcar & Cleveland College, on all things science and the skills needed to forge a career in the industry.
But the highlight for many was learning how to create and test-launch their own rocket – an activity designed to get them thinking about fundamental principles of science, including the impact of heat, kinetic energy, pressure and gravity.
The school has also been in contact with Saltburn-born astronaut Dr Nicholas Patrick, who famously blasted off in the Discovery and Endeavour space shuttles to carry out work on the International Space Station, in an attempt to set up a live Q&A session for the pupils. They are also taking part, along with Huntcliff students, in the space seed experiment that astronaut Tim Peake is running in conjunction with the Royal Horticultural Society.
The programme of activities is part of a wider aim to get more children engaged and interested in STEM subjects at school. The hope is that many of them will go on to study these subjects at college and university, forge successful careers in science-based industries and help employers tackle key skills shortages.
Jim Penketh said: “The importance of STEM cannot be underestimated. The knowledge gleaned from studying these subjects is vital to employers, not just engineers and manufacturers but to others across a whole host of related industries.
“It’s vital that we get children interested in STEM at an early age because if we leave it until they reach secondary school, quite often by then it’s too late. That’s why we teamed up with Saltburn Primary School so that the children could experience and try out these activities for themselves.”
Ten year-old Anna Wigmore, a pupil at Saltburn Primary School, said: “This was a great experience, especially when we got the chance to make the rocket. It opened our eyes to all of the different aspects of science and I’m looking forward to exploring the subject in more detail when I get to secondary school.”
Elizabeth Axe, science coordinator at Saltburn Primary School, added: “We were thrilled to team up with Redcar & Cleveland College to enhance our pupils’ understanding of science.
“The rocket launch in particular was great fun and it made the children more aware of the different career options available in the space industry. It isn’t just about being an astronaut, either; there are fantastic opportunities for budding mathematicians, physicists, engineers and medical specialists.
“There are also rewarding careers to be had in many other scientific areas so it’s our job to promote this message to young people by working with secondary schools, colleges, universities and employers.”
For further information, please contact please call 01642 473 132 or visit http://www.cleveland.ac.uk.