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Sunderland Space Camp Success!

  • 9th Nov 2023

This October, we had a great time in Sunderland running a week-long space camp with Lockheed Martin, Viasat and the University of Sunderland. NSA Administrator Ewan McMillan joined the year 6 group for the first three days of the camp, and here he shares what they got up to!

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Day 1

We were first introduced to the year 6s Monday morning during their breakfast/registration slot, making sure they had the correct lanyards on and had some refreshments to start them off for the day. Our first session for the day was a talk from one of the Lockheed Martin organisers, Neisha Steube, who gave the year 6s a talk and an introduction about what Lockheed Martin do and an overview of what to do during the week.

We then had the students fill in their pre-evaluations, giving us some information about their current level of knowledge and enthusiasm when it comes to understanding the space and science industry.

For the afternoon session we got stuck into the Rocket challenge, where we had the students build and launch their rockets. The students worked fantastically with each other, and they often would mingle with other groups as part of the challenge to do some trading amongst themselves of different rocket parts that they needed with the limited National Space Centre money in the packs they were given.

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We then went out into the centre of the University of Sunderland’s campus where we set up the rocket launcher to test the students’ rockets. They were scored on different aspects of teamwork, the structural integrity of the rocket, the distance it travels, and the accuracy of the launch. The kids seemed to love the activity and were whooping and cheering as each rocket flew off towards the moon target that we had put out for them to aim for.

The Monday was also the media day so we had a lot of cameras there that afternoon filming the launches, as well as BBC Radio Newcastle who made a short recording of the students’ reactions as the rockets were set off.

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Day 2

The second day was Robotics Day: we had a team come in from the University of Sunderland who were showcasing a few of their robots that they had been working with. There were multiple stations with different robots in each that the students could rotate around and learn how each one worked. The students were able to program some of the robots themselves to get them to do certain tasks such as picking up objects, singing and dancing, or making them say the students’ names aloud. One robot was taught how to do yoga, there were battle robots there too that would fight in a ring and try and push each other out which the kids went crazy for. After seeing the reactions of the children during Robot Day we were slightly worried that the rest of the week might not live up to how fun the robotics workshop was!

In the afternoon session we then had a talk from the Vice President of Lockheed Martin, Trip Carter, who gave a very enthusiastic and well-presented talk about what Lockheed Martin do and his role in the company. It was a very engaging talk, with Trip getting the students involved in answering some questions and keeping them thoroughly entertained. He showed them videos about different rockets and launches that he had been involved with and talked about the differences in rocket sizes and their fairing capabilities.

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Day 3

The morning session on Wednesday was the Moon Map activity where we took the students over to the Sports Hall of the University of Sunderland where they did activities all about the Moon. They had to build some Moon bases out of Lego in one section, they also had to find a Moon mission that they would then write a news report about as if they were the presenter. There was another activity where they programmed a little Moon rover that had to follow a path around craters to landing/investigation sites.

I had a fantastic time helping to run this camp and I’m sure the students will remember it for a long time to come!

Thanks to Ewan and to all the staff who helped make this camp a smashing success! Learn more about our work including space camps, masterclasses and careers conferences here. Or learn more about this partnership here.