On Monday, 10th June the Every Child, Every Day Academy Trust hosted an evening with Helen Sharman. It was our inaugural event and was 12 months in the planning. Each year the Trust intends to stage at least one learning event that aims to bring the young people from all three of our schools together. A core purpose of the Trust is to create “a wide range of opportunities to seek out the spark that will ignite an individual child’s passion.” Helen did just that.
Britain’s first astronaut took us all on a journey of discovery at the Rose Theatre. Those who’d secured tickets for the evening were privileged to hear about Helen’s amazing journey, from her commute home by car one evening to Russia and rigorous astronaut training to the Mir space station orbiting the earth 16 times a day.
Helen was insightful and entertaining, never losing her audience in science speak but explaining the complexities of space travel in compellingly simple terms. From using the space toilet (and then “breathing” oxygen extracted from urine) to learning how to encourage plant roots to grow “downwards” in a zero-gravity environment by using magnetic fields, Helen’s audience soon forgot the monsoon conditions outside and propelled their imaginations 400 kilometres above the earth’s surface. Mir was a space station that operated in low earth orbit from 1986 until 2001. Operated by the Soviet Union (and later by Russia) it was the first modular space station and was assembled in orbit from 1986 to 1996.
Helen Sharman was the first British astronaut to leave the earth’s atmosphere 24 years before Tim Peake blasted off into space. While she only spent 8 days in orbit and wishes it could have been longer, Helen’s description of the effects of zero gravity on human physiology and subsequent effects on the body of returning to earth, was a fascinating treat for audience members of all ages.
Helen also fielded an array of questions from her inquisitive audience from being a female role model in space travel and the sciences to how it felt to walk on earth after being weightless for so long, answering with humour and detail that never failed to enthral and entertain. Her commitment to the young people continued long after the main event remaining until well after 10.30 pm signing autographs and giving the students the opportunity to have their photo taken with this inspirational scientist. It would be unsurprising if we saw a surge in applications to the European Space Agency and NASA from budding young South West London scientists in the years to come.
Thank you to all the families particularly our primary age children as you all braved the rain to join us. We hope you had a fantastic time. I would like to thank: Jason Kynes the Trust Director of Science and Maddie Thomas our Director of Development for their hard work in organising this event, they did an amazing job. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all the Science staff who work so hard to embed a love for Science across out Trust. Over the coming weeks, we will do doing lots to commemorate the landing on the moon.
We are now planning our next set of events. The Every Child, Every Day Academy Trust has decided to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day which takes place in the first week in May 2020, this will enable our young people their families and our local communities to remember and pay tribute to those who served in one of the most significant events in our country’s history.