British astronaut invites UK students on space mission

UK students encouraged to take part in education and outreach activities for Tim Peake's Principia mission.

As British ESA astronaut Tim Peake prepares for his upcoming spaceflight to the International Space Station (ISS), students across the country are being encouraged to get in on the action by taking part in a variety of education and outreach activates being run by the UK Space Agency and the European Space Agency (ESA).

From following Tim’s training regime to designing experiments that will run on the ISS, there are many ways UK students can join Tim on this adventure of a lifetime.

To make sure every student in the country gets a chance to be part of his mission, Tim has this week (25 March 2015) sent a letter to all schools in the UK outlining the exciting opportunities available.

Tim will be the first British ESA astronaut to live and work on the ISS. His mission, named Principia after Newton’s world-changing three-part text on physics, Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica, is scheduled to begin in November 2015. Whilst on-board the ISS he will be using the unique environment of space to run experiments as well as trying out new technologies for future human exploration missions.

Most of the school activities running alongside Tim’s mission have some element of science or technology in them, but they cover a range of inspiring, curriculum-linked activities, covering everything from computer coding, growing plants and science/maths demonstrations to fitness, nutrition, art and design.

Image via the European Space Agency
Image via the European Space Agency

Tim’s letter also invites schools to take part in launch-day celebrations by attending one of the many events running in locations around the country, hosting their own launch party with the free feed of the launch, or creating something – such as a sculpture, display, activity or event – that can be shared with their community.

Tim Peake said:

I feel immensely privileged to be going into space and to be able to share my experience with everyone in the UK. I hope students all over the country will get involved in this incredible mission and be inspired to follow their own dreams.

Dr David Parker, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, added:

Tim is an inspirational role model for young people in the UK. As an ambassador for UK science and space-based careers, he is demonstrating that there are no limits to what British kids of every age can aspire to.

So far:

  • ESA has run a competition to name Tim’s mission and Blue Peter invited children to design the Principia mission patch.
  • Children took part in the Great British Space Dinner challenge to plan a meal for Tim to eat in space and the winners have been working with Heston Blumenthal to develop their ideas.
  • schools were challenged to propose ideas for experiments that Tim can carry out in space for them on a special Raspberry Pi computer that he will be taking with him into space – and there is still time to enter the Astro Pi challenge, developed with the UK space industry and the Raspberry Pi Foundation.

Visit the Astro Pi website for information on how to enter.

Further activities for schools will include:

  • an experiment to grow seeds that Tim will take with him into space (details to be announced in May)
  • a fitness activity for secondary students who can follow Tim’s training regime in space
  • curriculum science demonstrations for schools, developed by the National Space Academy
  • the opportunity to learn more about Tim’s mission at local science centres, with a show designed by the Science Museum, the National Space Centre and Jodrell Bank, starting in autumn 2015; and
  • chances for schools to host amateur radio live links to speak to Tim whilst he is on the ISS.

Primary schools will be able to get help in delivering these educational activities from an enthusiastic and experienced team of space ambassadors based around the UK, run by the UK Space Education Office (ESERO-UK).

The list of educational activities that are already available is on the Space Education Office website where teachers can download teaching resources without charge.

There are also details of grants to help schools do something special to follow Tim’s mission – this could be activities to involve the whole school and the local community during the mission (including art, design, drama, food and music), equipment to carry out experiments, or maybe something inspiring that we haven’t thought of yet.

All of these things and many more will be announced over the next few months on the UK Space Agency website where anyone can sign up for the Principia newsletter to get alerts on these education activities and other news.

Schools that share a photograph of their students and teachers with Tim’s letter on social media and tag the UK Space Agency will be sent a Principia mission patch.

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The Editorial Account of UKEdChat, managed by editor-in-chief Colin Hill, with support from Martin Burrett from the UKEd Magazine. Pedagogy, Resources, Community.

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