On Wednesday 23rd February, I was given the chance to attend the Space Masters Program run by the National Space Academy for the year 10 girls of Gumley House and Heston School. It was held by a member of the National Space Academy who began with a brief introduction of the day’s agenda. First we would have a brief talk about the Science industry and his own personal experiences in astronomy. The guest speaker was polite and he assured us that even if we weren’t planning to go into the science field, the day would still be a great experience and learning opportunity.


He passed around many models and replicas to show us what the first spaceship and other spaceships were made of, going as far as to bring in a small piece of gold from Apollo 11. Our first task of the day was to test the velocity of a paper spacecraft heat shield and see how quickly it fell to the floor depending on its surface area and its constant weight. We concluded that the less surface area there was to the heat shield, the quicker it would fall to the ground. 


Afterwards, we were given a special piece of plastic to play around with, it was a thin sheet of plastic that allowed us to see the rays of light in a filament bulb opposed to and led bulb, we concluded that the filament bulbs light path was vertical which differed from the horizontal path of the led bulb. After this exciting activity, we were given the chance to play around with a thermographic camera. This showed us not only how heat signatures are shown through a plastic bag, we also discovered that heat did not show when glasses are blocking its way.


After these two demonstrations, we watched our teacher making a model meteorite out of alcohol, coal, water, sand and (the most exciting of all!!) DRY ICE. We stared at the cold mist reacting to the water forming pools of cold mist and watched as he pulled out two black rocks which slowly began to crystallise with ice resembling that of mouldy cheese. 


The highlight of the day however was the final task. Making paper rockets. We were given very simple equipment (nothing fancy) : paper, tape, scissors, a pvc pipe and a 1p or 2p coin. Our mission? Make the rocket that went the furthest.


We either created the rocket in teams or went it solo. People added fins to make it go further and faster. We finished the day by launching our rockets using a pressure controlled pipe. It was amazing.


When asked about the day, Dara Lloyds, Year 10 said, “The STEM experience given to us by the National Space Academy was enriching and exposed us to new career options. We challenged our arithmetic skills by calculating force, pressure, area problems and other questions using the mass of gravity (9.81) enabling our teamworks skills. We built rockets and launched them outside, overall it was an enriching and enjoyable experience.”


The universe is full of mysteries and I think it was an amazing experience to be able to answer my own questions about the universe.