Space in school

What a week I have had. One of the local primary schools has been coordinating a space fortnight exhibition which I have helped to staff. It seems that they organise this sort of thing once a year and this year they had chosen a space theme. They make sure that there are lots of activities such as making a rocket, 3D glasses, moon rocks from PPARC etc. and then invite other schools from around Cheshire to attend for half a day each.

The inflatable planetarium has been up for the whole of the two weeks and we have given tours to probably well over 700 primary school kids. They have been good fun to do and my familiarity with the constellations has definitly improved; my arm can now point out most northern constellations all by itself! I have also tried to add some stories from cultures other than the Greeks and Romans to add some variety. My favourite of the last few days was the story told by Thebe Medupe in this month's New Scientist about the hunter and the three zebra.

We have also had use of the Faulkes telescopes in Hawaii and Australia which was absolutely amazing. The Faulkes telescopes are copies of the Liverpool Robotic Telescope and were built for use by school kids (and amateur astronomy groups) in the UK to use during the daytime. Obviously, when it is day the UK, it is night in Hawaii so it is possible to take images live. Apart from the fact that last week was cloudy on Hawaii, we have managed to get some clear sessions (the aim was to do two half hour sessions per day) and take some really great images of Saturn, Jupiter, M82, M42, and quite a few other Messier and NGC objects. We even got to be the first people (other than the FT team) to use the Australia telescope which was pretty cool. As I said, the pictures were great but unfortunately I can't post them here as I haven't got copyright clearance - pity.

There were some great questions from some of the kids that attended. We managed to answer most of the questions but I went blank when one boy asked me how big the Sun was (about 1.4 million km which I managed to work out later). Doh! Still it was a great, if tiring, week.

Posted in astro blog by Stuart on Saturday 22nd Jan 2005 (19:06 UTC) | Permalink
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