Year 7 students had the unique opportunity to take part in a space event where scientists from the Open university ‘Zoomed’ into school to talk to students about careers in space, their work, and some upcoming space missions!
After touring us through their work and some of their experiments, Dr Alice Dunford and Dr Neil Hollyhoake of the Open University Space instrumentation Centre took on our students in a lively Q&A session, fielding questions such as ‘How likely is that the JUICE mission will find life on the Moons of Jupiter?’, ‘How do you protect astronauts from meteorite impacts?’ and ‘How long can humans live in space?’.
After the talk there were activities to take part in, including Miss Creed-Miles’ collection of Apollo mission books and Lego, meteorites, and related rocks (such as Ilmenite – only formed when meteorites strike sand!), and finding out where the Apollo missions landed using Google Moon!
The favourite activity by far was the NASA Space Rocks, loaned to Dorcan by the UK Research Institute, Science and Technology Facilities Council, through their ‘Borrow the Moon’ programme.
The samples kit contained huge meteorites, several Moon rocks brought back by Apollo astronauts and a sample of Mars meteorite!
We were able to explore texture, magnetism and compare them to Earth rocks, and making the link to the origin of the Moon from a massive impact to the Earth about 4.5 billion years ago! (more information How did the Moon form? | Natural History Museum (nhm.ac.uk))
Mrs Ackrill (Maths) said “Moon rock day was one of those ‘once in a life time’ experiences. For myself, I was absolutely blown away to realise that one of the rocks, I held in my hands, was a small nickel-iron meteorite, which once formed the core of a small planet that broke apart perhaps 4 billion years ago. How many people have had that experience! I know that the students were experiencing similar feelings. The excitement and wonder was palpable, students crowding around the wonderful enthusiastic Miss Creed-Miles, as she explained about each of the amazing exhibits. To see all the students coming up with amazing questions, talking, explaining what they had just learned to each other, reading the literature available and relating that to the rocks on display, and just grinning from ear to ear; showed just how much they were gaining from this wonderful opportunity. This was one of those school experiences that will stay with them, and they will relate to others for years to come.”
Mrs Morley, Director of Teaching and Learning and Science teacher could not praise the event enough saying, ‘It was academia at its best’, while Mrs Bareham the Head awarded a Creative Thinker Award in recognition of the ‘Outstanding Moon Rocks experience for Year 7 Students’.
Students enjoyed the scientists talk “when they told us how they got to do their job and what inspired them”, that “they told us that in around 20 years a lot of space things will be happening” and “it not only taught me new things about space, but it gave me new experiences about space which I will never forget and cherish forever”. Students said that ’my favourite’ was: “holding moon rock and the core of another planet that is unknown“, “looking at the Moon rocks because the story behind them was just amazing” and “touching the space rock because it made me feel lucky to touch something from so far away in space”. However, many said that “I don’t have a favourite activity because they were all fun”! On the return to school in September the Space theme will continue in both STEM clubs, as we look at ‘Living on the Moon and Moving to Mars’! We hope that SPACE Day will return in 2022 with the OU Space Scientists able to attend and demonstrate their work on different missions, as well as a return of the Moon Rocks – watch this space….!