Oundle space challenge marks new SciTec partnership

Oundle School collaborates with Imperial College London for STEM event in new SciTec building

The first collaboration between Imperial College London and Oundle School took place recently in Oundle’s SciTec building with a ‘Space Challenge’ for sixty local year seven and eight pupils.

Pupils from Thomas Deacon Academy, Northampton Academy and Oundle School took part in what was a very successful inaugural event. The afternoon started with a hands-on space lecture by Neil Monteiro who discussed space travel and space flight, which was then followed by a session in a brand new inflatable Planetarium owned by the Outreach team of Imperial–erected in Oundle’s Great Hall. Here, pupils travelled the solar system and were able to see stars and constellations normally obscured by light pollution.

The final part of the day was handed over to designing, making and testing rockets with the aim to bring an egg safely back to earth after launching.

Chemistry teacher and Sanderson fellow, James Bessent, commented: “It is hoped that the Space Challenge will be the start of a very fruitful relationship between Imperial Colleg, London and Oundle School who aim to use the school and its SciTec facilities as a regional hub for local schools for future STEM activities.”

The Oundle ‘space race’

Back in September, a party of Imperial representatives, including the Head of Outreach, Dr Annalisa Alexander, visited Oundle School to explore new collaborations involving STEM subjects. Both institutions had recently received philanthropic gifts from the Michael Uren OBE foundation. Imperial received £40m to build a pioneering biomedical engineering centre, whilst Oundle received half a million pounds to help in the completion of the SciTec campus. Michael Uren OBE and his other Trustees are passionate about seeking to encourage the education of engineers and development of engineering within the UK. 

One of Michael’s principal objectives is to help to create the engineers and entrepreneurs of the future and his donation for the SciTec Campus reflects his support for the school’s vision to provide state-of-the-art facilities for tomorrow’s engineers.

Michael Uren said: “This wonderfully exciting project places Oundle where it should be – one of the foremost engineering schools in the country. The UK needs engineers and entrepreneurs if it is to compete and succeed in the future.  We were delighted that my Foundation could assist Oundle to achieve its fund-raising dreams of completing the SciTec Campus and enhancing the Patrick Engineering Centre.”

The development of the SciTec Campus (due to open in September 2016) completes Oundle’s original vision for the award-winning science complex of SciTec which was built in 2007. It sees the construction of a new maths department, new science labs and a complete refurbishment of the Patrick Engineering Centre. It will link science, maths, design, technology and engineering both physically and philosophically, providing state-of-the-art facilities for students.

Head of Oundle School, Sarah Kerr-Dineen, commented: “The completion of the SciTec Campus will bring to life in the heart of the school a vision to inspire all pupils, and to create the engineers and industry leaders of tomorrow.”


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