This February saw the launch of a new National Space Academy programme supported by PPG, a global paint, coatings and materials company with a strong UK presence. The launch event saw a taster session delivered to schools at one of PPG's UK manufacturing plants in Birstall, where they conducted experiments and learnt about the key role colour plays in space exploration. Experiments included 'How to survive re-entry', where pupils created their own thermal protection units to understand how space crafts are designed to withstand high temperatures at extreme speeds.

PPG Group Photograph


The PPG Chemistry Education Project allows schools to access PPG funded bursaries of £300 towards the cost of bringing a National Space Academy Lead Educator in to run up to four one-and-a-half hour sessions for pupils in year 6, 7, 8 or 9 (in England and Wales, or equivalent age groups in Scotland and Northern Ireland). These sessions have been designed to give children a unique look at colour and material in the context of space exploration.


At least 50 partially-funded sessions are up for grabs for schools throughout the UK & Ireland who are interested in bringing this Academy masterclasses to their pupils. An additional 10 fully-funded sessions are available on a first come first served basis for education providers within a 10 mile radius of PPG's manufacturing facilities in Birstall and Morley.

PPG Group Photograph


The masterclasses will feature a number of practical experiments to help students understand why certain colours are used most frequently in space projects, and be able to answer questions like: 'Why are NASA's rockets painted white?". Through the link with PPG, pupils will get the opportunity to make their own paints and test them to see how different colours absorb heat radiation.


Paul Dowie, HR Director at PPG, said: "Engaging children in STEM subjects at an early age is essential to building a skilled workforce in years to come. But this isn't just down to educators, businesses can also do their part in making students more aware of the opportunities available to those who pursue STEM-based learning.

"Teaming up with the National Space Academy to create these chemistry masterclasses means we can bring to life the scientific principles students study in school and textbooks through practical, exciting demonstrations within the context of something as stimulating as space travel."

The launch event saw National Space Academy Lead Educator Steve Althorpe and Head of Teaching and Learning Andy McMurray deliver a taster workshop to a year 6 and year 9 group from Birstall schools. The feedback from students, teachers, and the PPG team members present was excellent and the Academy team is excited to role this programme out to more schools.

If you would like your school to take part in the PPG Chemistry Education Project then see the information and apply here

Images: School groups attending the PPG Chemistry Education Project Launch at PPG's UK Manufacturing Plant in Birstall. Credit: PPG