On Tuesday 14 March NCEO Outreach officer, Catherine Fitzsimons, spent the day at Coten End Primary School in Warwick, where pupils were involved in activities to mark British Science Week
Activities included special assemblies, everyone in the school investigating the properties of paper spinners, and a science fair – as well as visits from scientists, medical professionals and engineers.
The three Year 4 classes had been studying climate change, so Catherine used lots of spectacular pictures to show how satellites collect much of the data on which climate scientists rely, and how new missions such as Biomass will improve our understanding of our planet.
She also described some of the work of NCEO researchers including, Heiko Baltzer’s award-winning Forest Alert system and Mat Disney’s findings about woodland in the UK. The latter was particularly relevant for one member of staff who lives in a place where many trees have been cut down to make way for the HS2 rail link, the path of which is a major feature of a satellite image of the local area.
One class also had the opportunity to explore some large-format satellite images in small groups. They were able to identify and share ideas about a whole range of features: mountains, volcanoes, rivers, beaches, polluted lakes, ports, roads … even roundabouts and individual ships!
The Year 5 classes had recently been to visit our Space City neighbours at the National Space Centre. They talked about what they had seen in the Home Planet gallery, which includes a huge tabletop screen showing pictures of the Earth from space, and videos of experts (including NCEO director, John Remedios) answering FAQs about climate change.
These groups wanted to find out more about living and working on the International Space Station so Catherine was able to share photographs and stories from British ESA astronaut Tim Peake whom she interviewed a few years ago. They also had lots of interesting questions; while some were quite general and easy to answer (What do you need to know to do this job?), others deserved a little more consideration (Do you think your work is important? Why?) and a few were really tough (What’s your favourite part of the Earth to look at from space?).
Over the next year, NCEO’s engagement team hopes to enhance the support it offers researchers across all our centres, to enable them to visit local schools and inspire children across the country to consider a career in science.