Walking on Mars, stargazing, designing landing gear and flying through the solar system in a planetarium were just a few of the mind-blowing activities on offer at Astro Eve earlier this month.
Dulverton Junior School led this first ever Astro evening as part of the Exmoor Primary Science Partnership. Seven of the primary partners took part, using ballots to select 60 children from Years 4, 5 and 6 to attend this popular first event. Pupils from Exford First School, Dulverton Junior School, Cutcombe First School, Milverton Primary School, Wiveliscombe Primary School, East Anstey and Bishops Nympton Primary Schools were lucky enough to take part.
“We were thrilled to have the Space Detectives run by Joanne Richardson (ESERO-UK Space Ambassador), Astronomers from the Tiverton & Mid Devon Astronomy Society and Simon Ould’s Space Odyssey mobile planetarium at the school to provide an exceptional evening of hands-on workshops and talks on the theme of space exploration,” said Sally Fulford, Head of Dulverton Junior School. “We even attempted to create a scaled version of the solar system to show just how vast it is, let alone our galaxy and the Universe. Finishing off with a cup of cocoa and a bedtime story read by Tim Peake during his Principia mission to the International Space Station rounded off a perfect evening.”
With the help of Jo, the budding Space Detectives and their teachers soon got to work exploring Mars. They discovered what makes it red, how we are currently exploring the surface and, using the Virtual Reality System, got an idea of what it would be like to actually walk on it. “The children were really engaged and full of wonderful ideas,” said Jo. “They carefully designed landers which were capable of landing a raw egg intact and modelled it on the landing of Curiosity itself. As ever, the Virtual Reality System brought their learning to life and it was fantastic to hear the enthusiastic comments from all of the children taking part.”
“Thanks to The Ogden Trust, this was an incredible opportunity for our local schools to be at the forefront of primary education in Space exploration,” continued Sally. “The Southwest is a dark sky reserve and the third largest employer in the UK space sector so there is no better time to open children’s eyes to space. Already some of our parents work in this very exciting sector, and we hope events like this will inspire the children to follow their dreams. We would also like to thank the workshop leaders, teachers, school staff, governors and parents, all of whom ensured this event was truly out of this world!”
Dr Alison Rivett, the Ogden South West Regional Representative added, “The Ogden Trust is a charitable trust that exists to promote the teaching and learning of physics. We do this by enabling innovative physics teaching to take place in schools, often forging links to universities. We are very pleased to be able to support the Exmoor Primary Science Partnership and to have been able to bring a small part of the universe to Dulverton!”