News‎ > ‎Academy News‎ > ‎

Students Reach for the Stars!

posted 30 Jul 2013, 06:14 by Google Google   [ updated 30 Jul 2013, 06:14 ]
With the national pass rate of GCSE Science plummeting by a worrying 2.2%, it has become imperative to boost the interest of the subject from a younger age. But, with ever-changing trends and distractions for young pupils, be that video games, music, sport or whatever else they put their minds to, it is difficult to capture their attention.

Understanding this, Millbrook Academy organised a Year 7 & 8 Science Enrichment project, named “Reach For The Stars”. Funded through a grant from the Institute of Physics, the project introduces Space and Physics concepts, via an interactive learning experience. This is where ‘Space Odyssey’ comes in. Possessing the largest mobile planetarium in the whole country, specialist physics teacher and Fellow of the Royal Astronomical SocietySimon Ould travels across the nation to deliver an eye-opening display of the universe; with mind-blowing visual aids and an insightful commentary to match, ‘Space Odyssey’ puts into perspective just how vast and interesting space is, in an entertaining andengaging way.

On the 18th September, Millbrook Academy’s year 7s & 8s (and myself) had the pleasure of viewing the universe from within the smaller “Pioneer” dome. Various aspects of space were explored, from a basic comparison of the Earth’s size to more unorthodox displays, such as the point of view of an astronaut as he plunges out of the Earth’s atmosphere into a sea of dark nothingness. However, every single display provokedthe same reaction of amazement and appreciation from the students (the most common of which was referring to the spectacles as “sick”). Although this colloquial response doesn’t sound like much, take my word for it: getting a group of 12 year olds to refer to education as “sick”, without blowing something up, is a scientific breakthrough in itself.

After the presentation, I asked some pupils to share their opinions on the session. Most students replied with similar comments, such as “good”, “really good” and “I learned a lot”, but one response, from Connor Skidmore, summed up what the enrichment project had set out to do: “It made me change my mind about the galaxy and the universe. I didn’t know how cool and big it was”. I believe that response speaks for the majority of the year.

Overall, it appeared that the pupils had found the experience thoroughly enjoyable, serving its purpose to inspire and enrich their knowledge about Space and Physics.  The success of the day should hopefully increase the greater participation of Science, giving the students of Millbrook Academy the direction they need to reach for the stars.

By Adam Hannis (6th Form)