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28 February, 2020 - 09:31 By Kate Sweeney

Heavens above! STEM students see stars at astronomy masterclass

Students from four schools across Cambridge visited the Institute of Astronomy’s Madingley Observatory to learn about the solar system in the latest project day in the Cambridge LaunchPad initiative.

Year 7 students from Coleridge Community College, Soham Village College, Parkside Community College and Comberton Village College took part in a venture designed to open their eyes to the wealth of career possibilities available for everyone in the STEM industries.

The students were hosted by Dr Matthew Bothwell who showed them how to discover more about our solar system and galaxies, before demonstrating how physics is applied in astronomy.

Touring the university astronomy library and seeing some of the telescopes and equipment used at the observatory gave students an insight into the science used in research at the Institute.

In the afternoon, the students unleashed their creativity, creating their own planets and exploring features such as temperature, seasons, surface materials and life forms.

Students then exchanged planets and designed a space research mission before presenting their ideas to the rest of the group.

Cambridge LaunchPad believes that STEM subjects can teach young people more than just subject matter. Over the course of the day students are encouraged to develop soft skills such as communication, teamwork, problem-solving and curiosity.

At the end of the project day students who have best shown their understanding of these values are recognised and rewarded with an invitation to the award ceremony held at the end of the academic year.

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