Tewkesbury Academy students explore life in space

GCSE science students at Tewkesbury Academy were treated to a session on ‘life in space’ from the National Space Academy (NSA).

The session, led by the NSA’s Space Advocate David Allden, provided students with an overview of different space agencies and a glimpse into various careers within space and astronomy.

The interactive session began with Year 9 students breaking into groups to discuss where space begins. They discovered that space begins at the Kármán line, 100 km above Earth. Following this, students explored the true scale of the distance from the Moon to Earth and received an introduction to professional alien hunters and the Goldilocks Zone — the habitable area of our solar system where Earth is positioned. Theoretical targets for potential aliens, such as Mars, Venus, Enceladus, and Europa, were also discussed.

The session also included a wide array of hands-on experiments. Students used glow sticks and water of different temperatures to understand why glow sticks appear brighter in the summer. They then explored Newton’s First Law, using a hovercraft CD on desks, and relating it to space travel.

Things took a wet turn when students made hydrogen-oxygen rockets and launched them across their classroom. After a short break, the session continued with a lesson on tardigrades, also known as water bears or moss piglets. These resilient micro-animals that can survive in space and ‘deep sleep’ for up to 30 years, enduring extreme environments.

To round off the workshop, students had the chance to design their own aliens and assess whether their creations could survive on the fictional planet Borgonia. Throughout the session, Mr Allden connected activities to various aspects of the science GCSE curriculum, including evolution and natural selection in biology, forces in physics, and fuels and acidity in chemistry.

Dr Kennedy, Director of Science at Tewkesbury Academy, said: “Students were extremely motivated to get involved. Engaging with all practical’s and eager to be volunteers, our Tewkesbury scientists impressed Mr Allden with their knowledge of space facts.”


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