Mad Scientess Jane Expat (nanila) wrote,
Mad Scientess Jane Expat

Let us do Space crafts

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.
Tags: imperial, outreach

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