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Space Age Lectures 2018

Egglescliffe School students were royally entertained and informed in a day of Space-related lectures which saw the school play host to some of Europe’s finest Space and Science voices.

Aldrin, Armstrong, Gagarin, Collins, Lovell and Tereshkova are all household names of the 1960s and 1970s as humankind broke new boundaries on lunar space missions. Since the 1960s they have also been the names of Egglescliffe School’s house blocks (with the exception of Collins block, which is no more) and this formed the backdrop to a wonderful day for our students.

The day commenced with a superb introduction and talks by BAFTA nominated film director Professor Chris Riley, who introduced Doug Millard from the Science museum. He gave an excellent talk on the race between the USSR and USA to put the first man of on the moon. This was followed by an equally wonderful session on the same theme from Professor David Southwood, Chair of the UK Space Agency.

We were also incredibly fortunate to hear extensively from Dr Suzie Imber. She inspired our students as she spoke about her life growing up, how her hobbies and interests shaped her love of sport and mountaineering and how these interests then fused with the world of Science and her work at NASA. Dr. Imber then spoke about the various personal challenges that she faced as she triumphed in the BBC Reality TV show ‘Astronauts: have you got what it takes?’

Egglescliffe School students had formulated a number of superb questions to ask of Jon McBride, the former NASA Astronaut. He videoed his responses for us and these were played to students. He recounted his life in space travel and how his finest moment was the breath-taking vision of looking back at his own planet from space for the first time.

On the afternoon, students were treated to an even more unique experience. We connected via video link to Denver, USA. Dr. Andrew Aldrin, Head of the Aldrin Institute and Son of Buzz Aldrin, spoke for 45 minutes on how it felt to grow up as the son of the second man to walk on the moon, just nine minutes after Neil Armstrong. He also answered a range of excellent student questions, ranging from the importance of water on Mars to whether other life is likely to exist deep in the depth of space.

Our speakers and guests were wonderful and this was matched by our students who were exemplary in their conduct and interest that they showed. None of this could have happened without the wonderful Angie Watson from the class of 1978 who left the school forty years ago. Angie Watson, Amanda Gale, Steve Neal and Paul Charlton were all key players in helping to set the wheels in motion for the day to happen. In particular, Angie has worked with the school for eighteen months to get this off the ground.

The day was an overwhelming success. Mark Cowan, Deputy Head teacher, noted that “this was a wonderful day and we hope that this has broadened our students’ horizons. This is all about opening up opportunities for young people. All of our inspirational speakers began somewhere and we really believe that our students can go on to wonderful things themselves.”

The last words should go to our fantastic students. Lucy in Year 8 commented that “the highlight of the day was hearing from Dr. Suzie Imber. I feel that she was inspirational and people could really relate to her.” Fellow Year 8 student Poppy noted that her highlight was when the former US NASA Astronaut Jon McBride answered her questions on what was the best things about being in space.  “This is a really nice way to end Year 8” said Poppy. “I will definitely remember it in the future.”

Issy in Year 10 concluded by talking about how interesting and impressive the Space Race was between the USSR and USA. “Even though Science was behind it, a lot of this was to do with politics between the USSR and America”.

This was a wonderful day supported by a range of fantastic speakers and various Scientific bodies and organisations. The day also saw tremendous robotics work with a group of students who worked with Mr Clarkson and Mr Smith.

As a boy, Neil Armstrong was born and raised in Ohio and was inspired by the stories of the Wright Brothers’ first aviation flights in nearby Dayton. We hope that our students have found similar inspiration from our Space Age Lectures day. Who knows where some of them may end up?

Professor David SouthwoodDr Suzie ImberDoug MillardProfessor Chris RileyDr. Andrew  Aldrin

For more images from the event please visit the Gallery section or click here.