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School children looking through telescope

Students gaze into future careers with Institute of Astronomy

Cambridge students joined the Institute of Astronomy and the Kavli Institute of Cosmology to explore our solar system at the Madingley Observatory

Year 7 students from Coleridge Community College, Soham Village College, Parkside Community College and Comberton Village College took part in the Cambridge LaunchPad project day, designed to open their eyes to the wealth of career possibilities available for everyone in the STEM industries.

On 25th February, the students were greeted at the Madingley Observatory by Dr Matthew Bothwell who led the day to discover more about our solar system and galaxies, before showing how physics is applied in astronomy.

Touring the university astronomy library and seeing some of the telescopes and equipment used at the observatory gave students an insight into the science used in research at the Institute of Astronomy.

In the afternoon, the students unleashed their creativity, creating their own planets and exploring 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 7 students from Coleridge Community College said:

“We enjoyed looking at the telescope and finding out about stars! Other students should come because it is a fun and informative experience – it gave us the opportunity to leave our comfort zone and explore the solar system.”

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.

A teacher from Soham Village College said:

“As well as developing an interesting and gaining knowledge of STEM related industries, students can practice and demonstrate key transferable skills.”

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