Earlier in October, Lorna and Sophie travelled to South Africa for World Space Week. They spent the week with the South African National Space Agency (SANSA) and got up to some amazing things! Lorna Lewin shares all about their trip…

Wednesday 4th October- Public Lecture on The Frontiers of Space Exploration.

Sophie gave a talk in SANSA’s new Weather Centre auditorium to 50 members of the public (both online and in person) about the latest Webb Telescope news, the upcoming Artemis mission, and some top tips on how to gain a career in the space sector. There were lots of questions during the talk, and at the end, mostly from the youngsters in the audience, which was fantastic!

Thursday 5th October - SANSA Staff Science Engagement Training.

We spent the morning with 17 of SANSA’s staff members to talk about their roles and how to engage confidently with the public about SANSA activities and engaging with the STEM subjects. They came up with ideas on how to work on their confidence and learn more about what SANSA do. For example, they would like to introduce a weekly podcast where they interview staff members and other STEM organisations, as well as a TikTok channel to showcase snapshots of their activities to the public.

We spent the afternoon running a masterclass with 16 year 12 girls from a school in Cape Town. They learnt about rocket propulsion by building their own paper rockets and launching them, as well as the effects of pressure in space and why astronauts wear space suits, using our own pressure suit as an example.

We got a great example of how much this work matters when a student came over to Sophie at the end of the session. She wanted to know how to get a career in the space sector, something she hadn’t considered before taking part in the masterclass!

Friday 6th October - Online workshop ‘Inspiring with space across STEM’

We piloted an idea to run an online CPD sessions for various staff members working in Science Centres across South Africa. Sophie had her activities set up with a camera so everyone online could see, and we had 25 participants join us. Sophie showed them how to do highly impactful activities at a really low cost with equipment they likely already have.

This session was really successful as we were able to show participants simple but effective activities that they can easily take into their Science Centres and classrooms to then show their visitors and school groups.

Saturday 7th October - Teacher CPD in Cape Town

On our final day of delivery we travelled to Cape Town to engage with 10 science teachers in a day of CPD. Activities included making CD hovercrafts, rocket building and using mini marshmallows and syringes to show the effects of pressure. The teachers really enjoyed the experience, and said it was well worth coming out on a Saturday during the holidays – very high praise!

Over the space of four days, we reached over 100 participants across the Western Cape of South Africa, engaging them in the STEM subjects; through lectures, student masterclasses and CPD. It was a very full on week for delivery, but it was so worth it, knowing we have inspired students and engaged the public, and hope they will want to learn more about gaining a career in the space sector.

Learn more about the CPD we deliver here or discover more about our international projects here.