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Mad Scientess Jane Expat

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Let us do Space crafts [20111114|20:00]
Mad Scientess Jane Expat
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Last week, I went to IntoUniversity’s centre in Haringey to talk to a group of Year 6 (age 10-11) students. The charity invites classes of children from both primary and secondary school to participate in week-long workshops about a particular academic subject. The schools are in traditionally deprived areas of London and most of the children have parents who didn’t attend university. The intent is to get them to consider studying at university as a possibility. The last time I did a talk for IntoUniversity was a few years ago in Lambeth, when they only had one centre. I’m pleased it’s expanded since then because it’s a brilliant idea.

My students were in the middle of a week dedicated to Engineering. I talked to them about spacecraft engineering and helped them with a workshop in which they had to construct a space station from foam blocks, egg cartons, polystyrene and crayons. The spacecraft had to be subjected to several tests: a strength test (support 2 kg of flour), an insulation test (keeping a cup of hot water warm), a volume test (inserting a foam brick into the centre of the craft) and a weight test (the lighter the structure, the more points scored). The winning craft came top of the first three categories by dint of employing an embedded structure (sweet container) to hold the cup of water. It could be lifted through the roof of the craft to allow the foam brick to be inserted. This also made it heavy, but they’d accumulated so many points already that they were going to win no matter what I decided. I had the “best aesthetics” vote. Fortunately for them, they’d made the most colourful and attractive spacecraft, so it was easy. You can see all four of the spacecraft below. The winning craft with its shark-fin solar sails is on the far left.

The education workers kindly compiled the students’ feedback and e-mailed it to me today. I reproduce the students’ comments verbatim, because they are adorable.

The best thing about this programme was...
  • When Dr [personal profile] nanila came because we did Space crafts
  • Dr [personal profile] nanila because we got to make space shuttles
  • When Dr [personal profile] nanila Cam because she taught us about moving to the Moon
  • Dr [personal profile] nanila’s visit because we learnt more about Space
  • Seeing Dr [personal profile] nanila because I’d never met her before
  • Dr [personal profile] nanila because she gave an enjoyable talk about the Moon
  • Getting to meet Dr [personal profile] nanila because I got to hear about going into Space
  • Making Moon shelters because we worked as a team
  • Dr [personal profile] nanila because she taught us a lot about the Moon
  • Meeting Dr [personal profile] nanila because she gave me a lot of information
  • Making Moon shelters because it was really fun
  • When I met Dr [personal profile] nanila because she is famous

I’m dying to know if “...we did Space crafts” was an intentional pun. I’m going to send them Cassini lithographs of Saturn as a thank-you.

[User Picture]From: victorine
2011-11-14 21:32 (UTC)
My favorite "when I met Dr. Nanila because she is famous."

!!!! FTW!!!!!
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2011-11-15 20:27 (UTC)
Also, so completely untrue! I don't understand how they wound up with that impression.
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[User Picture]From: bryangb
2011-11-14 21:51 (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2011-11-15 20:29 (UTC)
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From: pbristow
2011-11-14 22:06 (UTC)
[GRIN] That is a brilliant challenge! I'd like to think I wouldn't have come *last*, but I doubt I would have thought of the removable cup-holder. =:o}
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2011-11-15 20:30 (UTC)
You should have heard the outrage from some of the other students. "That's cheating!" they said. "No, it's clever design," I said. They weren't too happy about that.
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[User Picture]From: angelcityblues
2011-11-14 23:59 (UTC)
That is so fun. :) I'm so glad everyone had a good time! :) I wish we'd had things like that when I was a student.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2011-11-15 20:32 (UTC)
Me too. Although I came from a family in which it was assumed that I would go to university, so something like this would probably have been unnecessary.
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[User Picture]From: cosmiccircus
2011-11-15 04:18 (UTC)
Too cute! Someday I just know one of these kids will be famous and say it was all due to your visit!
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2011-11-15 20:34 (UTC)
That's quite a lot to hope for! If nothing else, I hope they come away from it thinking that you can have a happy life as an engineer or scientist, and that that might make it worth going to university.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2011-11-15 20:35 (UTC)
I am happy to report that I did not encourage them to eat their soup with the Moon instead of a spoon.
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