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St. George's Pupils Reach for the Stars


St. George's Pupils Reach for the Stars Image

On Monday 15th October, St. George’s boldly went where many have never gone before, exploring all things astronomical with a group of experts travelling to the island to deliver an out-of-this-world day of space-related workshops. St. George’s were delighted to host astronomical outreach group ‘Astronomy for Remote and Island schools’ (AfRIS), who travelled to Jersey to deliver a day packed with specially designed content designed to spark a deeper interest in astronomy. As part of a 30 month-long schedule of school visits, pupils were guided by Dr Chris Leigh, senior lecturer and Astronomer at the Astrophysics Research Institute of Liverpool John Moores University, who heads up the AfRIS team. Dr. Leigh took pupils on a virtual tour of our Universe that inspired, surprised and educated those taking part. The AfRIS team use a mixture of presentations and practical activity to teach pupils all about how astronomy helps us to discover and understand our changing Universe.

Over the course of the day, pupils covered many aspects of astronomy including the critical nature of gravity and light, robotic telescopes, observing the night sky, stars and constellations and, finally, space exploration!

Dr. Chris Leigh had this to say about his visit to Jersey and what his team hopes to offer to everyone taking part in the programme: ‘Our objective is to engage with 80 schools over the course of the AfRIS scheme with activity days specifically designed to not only encourage a love of science but to spark an ongoing engagement and enthusiasm for the subject. We want to encourage schools to set up their own science clubs as a direct result of our visit (if they don’t already run one), and we also want to encourage more pupils to study STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths) long-term. As part of our ongoing commitment, we will provide online support after our visit for any pupils who want to take their astronomical education further. We love what we do and are really motivated by the enthusiasm from the pupils we engage with, some of whom may go on to be the astronomers and space explorers of the future.’

Teacher in charge of Science at St. George’s, Andrea Lathwell, who invited AfRIS to visit the school, has this to say: ‘I heard about AfRIS last year and leapt at the opportunity to invite them over to the school to complement the work we’re doing on astronomy and studying the Universe. Our philosophy at St. George’s is about preparing pupils for life, and in years to come it seems likely that we will look beyond our own planet for many things including resources and, potentially, places to live and work. We’re very excited to host real experts in the field and look forward to an interesting, fun and informative day of learning and exploration!’

Activities ran from 09:00 to 15:45 and more than 100 pupils from Years I-VI had the chance to take part.  ITV Channel Television even came along to have a go, with a special report airing on the 15th October programme.  The Jersey Evening Post's Jepson also tried his hand at space exploration and you can see how that went in Saturday 20th October's JEP.