My space week was a real blast
McLaren High School student Niamh King (now S6) was selected to attend the Scottish Space School this summer at Strathclyde University. Here is her report of the week-long event:
Every summer 100 S5 Scottish school pupils are selected to attend the residential summer school which consisted of a mixture of lectures, labs, and workshops on a space theme and delivered by academics and researchers from the Faculty of Engineering, as well as visiting NASA representatives.
The first day saw us split into 10 teams of 10 with each team named after an ISS module - my team was called Destiny. We were introduced to our mentors and lecturers as well as doing many ice-breaker games so we all got to know each other. Day two was an introduction to design, manufacture and engineering management and we were set a project to work on throughout the week. We were introduced to NASA astronaut Sunita Williams, a veteran of two space missions, Expeditions 14/15 and 32/33 to the International Space Station (ISS). She is currently training for the first post-certification mission of Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft – the second crewed flight for that vehicle – and her third long duration mission aboard the ISS.
We were then set the challenge to construct rockets that would later in the day be launched from Kelvingrove Park, it was incredibly fun and our rockets were then judged by Sunita and Joel Montalbano - NASA Deputy International Space Station (ISS) Program Manager. That evening Sunita gave a presentation on her journey to becoming an astronaut and her experiences in space. Finally at the end of the day the mentors gave us a presentation on what it is like to study engineering.
On the third day there was an introduction to biomedical, prosthetics and orthotics engineering, followed by a workshop on mechanical and aerospace engineering where we built a virtual reality headset. In the afternoon a chemical engineering workshop had us making bouncy balls from different formulas and measuring how effective each formula was.
In the evening we were introduced to NASA flight surgeon Dr Richard Scheuring who gave a presentation on his role and a talk from Clyde Space, a Scottish company which designs and manufactures its own micro-satellites.
Day four was an electronic and electrical engineering workshop in the morning where we built a heart monitor using various electrical components and later on we worked on a project to create a product that would improve an aspect of life for astronauts on the ISS. In the afternoon Nikki Lloyd, a previous intern from NASA and daughter of the founder of the Space School, gave a presentation where she talked about her experience of studying different types of diseases at the research centre in Houston, Texas. That evening we had an open mic night where each team did a performance that everyone involved got to watch and were judged by the NASA guests.
On the final day we had an introduction to naval architecture, ocean and marine engineering as well as a fun group task where we got to use remote control ‘Mars Rovers’ to pick up magnets underground and earn points. In the afternoon we did a civil and environmental engineering workshop where we built a bridge out of dry spaghetti and hot glue to see which shapes would hold up the most weight.
That afternoon Joel gave us a presentation about his journey towards working in NASA and what his job involves. To conclude we had a ceilidh to celebrate the last night.
Meeting astronauts and engineers working on live space projects for the first time was inspiring and speaking to the astronauts about their time in space and their journey to become an astronaut was hugely motivating. It was a brilliant opportunity to meet 100 likeminded people from across Scotland and I made many friends. Nuffield Biology Placement Heather Jackson (now S6) spent the summer on a four-week research project sponsored by the Nuffield Foundation. Her report follows:
McLaren High biology teacher Dr Benden encouraged me to apply, helped me with my application and found a placement with the Institute of Aquaculture at the University of Stirling and I then spent four weeks of my summer holiday conducting a research project looking at water quality in Swanswater Fishery just outside Bannockburn.
I had to study the water in the fishery as well as the water that supplies the fishery.
I learned how to take water samples out in the field, and then back in the labs at the university I learned about water analysis and used different equipment and techniques to investigate the water quality.
I had to analyse all my results, write a scientific report and make a poster which I presented at the celebration event in Edinburgh for all the students who had completed projects from all over Scotland.
Despite having to give up most of my holiday, I really enjoyed the whole experience and it was very worthwhile. I learned a lot from the people who were involved and the experience I gained from working in the labs and in the field will be invaluable.
It has confirmed that a career in research and biology is for me and so I would encourage anyone considering a career in science to apply for this amazing opportunity.
Scottish Schools Road Race Balfron High had its biggest entry with 29 athletes taking part in the race at Falkirk Stadium on Wednesday, October 3. The pupils once again did well bringing home a team gold (senior girls, winning by a huge margin), a team silver (S2 boys) and two individual bronzes (Isla Britton and Valencia Wright). The senior boys team had narrow miss with fourth place. Team medallists were: Senior girls: Isla Britton, Abby Rowley, Rosie Eckersley, Elizabeth Thompson. S2 Boys: Connor Bell, Thomas Reilly, Harry Baines, Jonathan Prempeh. Other top performances came from Tuscany Wright, Joshua Kennedy, Connor Bell, Blayne Wright and Murphy Hand.
Happy Balfron High School’s S2 boys silver medallists - Connor Bell, Harry Baines, Jonathan Prempeh, Thomas Reilly Winners
Balfron High senior girls’ winning team - Elizabeth Thompson, Rosie Eckersley, Isla Britton, Abby Rowley