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How Wellesley House became a host school for contact with Tim Peake

Published: Dec 14, 2015 3 min read

STEM learning

In the summer of 2014, Tim Peake’s six month mission to the International Space Station (ISS) was only just starting to filter through to those of us with our heads firmly in the classroom. But when the ESERO-UK conference in York in July 2014 entitled, Space Conference - The Primary Frontier (all about Tim's mission) was advertised, it sounded far too exciting to miss out on.

I was lucky enough to have a very encouraging Headmaster who is also keen to promote science within the school and I was able to attend the conference. This was to be the beginning of a very exciting journey for Wellesley House School in Broadstairs.

On return from the conference, full of enthusiasm and ideas, I worked with local STEM Ambassador John Hislop (who is also member of the Monkton Stargazers and Hilderstone Radio Club) to put together an inset at Wellesley House for local primary teachers who were not lucky enough to be able to go to York for the conference. This was attended by teachers from local infant, junior and primary schools from both the state and private sectors. We also had Jo Fox (Space Fund UK, Team Tim show and Space Ambassador) and Elizabeth Roche (Royal Greenwich observatory) there to explain what they could offer to local schools.

The National STEM Centre sent us lots of resources which we gave out to all of the teachers who attended. It was felt that this was a really useful event and that something similar would be welcomed by all.

Throughout 2015, Wellesley House has been busy promoting science within the school but also offering opportunities to our local schools. In February, we had the Science Technology Facilities Council loan of the Moon Rocks in school. This was a really exciting week which started with a talk from Dr Kathryn McDermott from the University of Kent (a member of the Meteoritical Society, Mineralogical Society and a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society) to promote women’s role in the space industry. Two local infant schools also brought a group of their pupils to ‘hold the moon’ and we opened our doors one evening to all interested parents and Monkton Stargazers.  Teaching resources for the loan scheme are available on the STEM Learning website.

Following on from this, we had an exciting Space Week in National Science and Engineering Week throughout the entire school. This, of course, coincided with the solar eclipse on 20 March 2015 and pupils were able to use a solar telescope (courtesy of f1telescopes) and watch the eclipse. Despite the cloudy weather, Hilderstone radio club was able to demonstrate to pupils how the sun affects the ionosphere and showed children how to download data from the FUNcube satellite.

When Tim Peake (Principia) challenged UK students on the ESA website to ‘Make That Call’, Wellesley House did. When we found out that we had got through the first selection process and into a second round we were pleasantly surprised. But then, in July, we were told the news that we had made it through to the final selection of ten schools nationally to potentially have direct radio contact with Tim Peake whilst he is on-board the ISS in 2016.

Arrangements are now well underway for this unique event (#KentPrincipia) and listed on our website are over 20 local schools that are currently interested in joining us for this exciting project. We are delighted that Wellesley House is able to share this fabulous opportunity with as many young people as possible.