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Two Big Bangs for the National Space Academy

Big Bang15220For the third year running the National Space Academy was invited back to the University of Exeter for the regional South West Big Bang Fair.

It is an event in which the National Space Academy reaches 1000 students, by running two masterclasses. The theme of this year's masterclass was 'Rocket Science' and dispelling the myth that rocket science is difficult.

The students were invited to learn about Newton's three Laws of Motion. In doing so they built a hovercraft out of an old CD and a balloon; demonstrating the first law of motion and the principle of inertia. They also learnt about the nature of cryogenic fuels, and why liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen are used to launch rockets. The climax of the masterlcass was the demonstration of what happens when you ignite a fuel within a closed container, you get the woosh bottle.    

Presenting to the students was the excellent team of Andy McMurray, Head of Teaching and Learning and Sophie Allan, Physics Teacher for the National Space Academy.  

The coolest demonstration by far was the dry ice in a water bottle. When dry ice (frozen carbon dioxide) is introduced to a water bottle, the solid carbon dioxide changes back to a gas (or sublimates) and expands filling the space. As it expands and cools, the water vapour in the air is cooled down and condenses into a cloud. By opening the top of the water bottle, the water vapour is able to escape, as seen in the photo below. 

When asked about the event Jenna Trolley, a teacher from Ridgeway School in Plymouth said it was 'really interactive, really fun and we really enjoyed it."

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The National Space Academy was also invited for the first time to attend the South East Big Bang Fair. Hosted in Haywards Heath, the Academy ran sessions throughout the day highlighting comets; in particular answering the question of whether or not comets might have brought life to Earth, or that they were responsible for cataclysmic changes in the Earth's past, such as the extinction of the dinosaurs.     

Below is Andy McMurray, showing the audience how to make your own comet. 

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