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Students discover galaxies far, far away with Institute of Astronomy

Students from Cherry Hinton C of E Primary School joined the Institute of Astronomy to learn more about our galaxy and beyond

On 11th December, Year 6 students were greeted at the Madingley Observatory by Dr Matthew Bothwell who led the students to discover more about our solar system and galaxies before teaching them how physics is applied in astronomy.

Students toured the university astronomy library and saw some of the telescopes and equipment used at the observatory, and were encouraged to use their creativity to learn more about the science used in research.

In the afternoon, teams created their own planet and explored features such as temperature, seasons, surface materials and life forms. Students then exchanged planets and designed a space research mission before presenting their ideas to the rest of the group.

Year 6 students said: “We really enjoyed working as a team to create our own planet, each of us had our own role and then we presented our ideas all together.

Today has definitely made me think more about space and all of the cool things you can discover.”

Cambridge LaunchPad believes that STEM subjects can teach young people more than just subject matter. Over the course of the day students are encouraged to develop soft skills such as communication, teamwork, problem-solving and curiosity.

At the end of the project day students who have best shown their understanding of these values are recognised and rewarded with an invitation to the award ceremony held at the end of the academic year.

Dr Matthew Bothwell, Outreach Officer at the University of Cambridge Institute of Astronomy and the Kavli Institute, said: “Astronomy is a great topic to allow students to learn more about STEM in a fun and approachable way.

Showcasing the outreach equipment, we have at the Institute enables us to introduce complicated scientific concepts to a wide range of audiences.”

A teacher from Cherry Hinton C of E Primary School said: “Days like today are invaluable, the children come away with new knowledge as well as passion for exploration.

They are given the opportunity to engage with different forms of technology and leave the day inspired, wanting to continue their learning adventure. We couldn’t ask for more!”

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