Big Bangs for London and the National Space Academy
- Published on Wednesday, 27 July 2016
For the fourth year in a row the National Space Academy was invited back to the Big Bang South West to run the ‘MegaClass’: two one hour masterclasses each for 500 students.
Hosted at Exeter University the theme of this year’s MegaClass was ‘Space Oddities’. Space is a very unusual and harsh environment and compounds such as water or air behave very differently when exposed to different temperatures and pressures.
The students took part in three experiments each looking at an unusual effect in space, and how Astronauts have to survive these effects. The first was to look at how bubbles behave in space and investigate surface tension, where the students created a gigantic bubble using washing up liquid and dry ice. The second was to investigate the relationship between temperature and pressure, with the students boiling water in a syringe. The third was to investigate the ways in which heat is transferred, specifically how convection currents can move a piece of paper. The students were challenged with moving their piece of paper without using their hands.
Building and launching rockets, and learning about how a comet is made was the order of the day at the Big Bang London South West. Andy McMurray and Southern Regional Programme Manager Christopher Duff ran three, one hour masterclasses at Sutton Grammar School, with the students being inspired to build their own paper rocket and launch it to see which spent the most time in the air.
They were treated to a ‘whooshing’ demonstration on how a real rocket motor works as well as a comet being built before their very eyes. In doing so, they learnt about the chemical element that make up a comet and discussed the implications of those chemicals on the potential formation on life on Earth.
Lead Educator Robin Mobbs had the busiest week by far as he ran multiple masterclasses at the Big Bang London events in Newham, Westminster and Uxbridge. In doing so Robin reached 290 students over the three days and travelled the breath of the capital.
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