Schools in space

King’s High School reveals the success of their recent space programme

When King’s High School Year 12 student Eleanor Griffin was selected to hold a space conversation with an astronaut, she was inspired to set up the ‘Warwick Mars Project’, for students across the Warwick Independent Schools Foundation, to further interest in space science.  

This was the catalyst for a whole schedule of activity throughout March and April for King’s High School, Warwick and sister school, Warwick Preparatory. This began with a Stargazing Live evening with recently appointed Space Scientist in Residence, Mr McGuire, and The Stratford-upon-Avon Astronomical Society, providing a full evening of interactive fun, including solar system and telescope demonstrations. There was also a full space day with guest expert speakers: The British Interplanetary Society, Dr Will Dunn from UCL who spoke about future space missions, Prof. Anu Ojha OBE, Director at National Space Academy, National Space Centre and Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Leicester, and Dr Jess Wade from Imperial College London, who was the guest speaker at their space-themed ‘Inspire Dinner’. 

Plus, the school had a live link-up to the International Space Station, with an antennae set up in the grounds of King’s. Their girls and children from Warwick Prep had the opportunity to speak directly to NASA Astronaut Ricky Arnold and many of them were fortunate enough to ask questions, including: “When we colonise Mars, what’s the most important thing that we’d need to learn from our ancestors’ mistakes?”, “How has your journey to space changed your perspective on human life?” and “What types of weather can you get on Mars that’d we have to tackle if humans were to live there?” amongst many others! The link up generated a great deal of interest and was covered by both Midlands Today and BBC Coventry and Warwickshire. 

From one girl’s interests and ambitions, a generation of King’s High and Warwick Prep pupils have benefited from an extraordinary range of opportunities and life-experience, whilst highlighting the school’s emphasis on embracing and promoting STEAM subjects. Pupils from other local schools were also able to share in the excitement, by joining the schools for ‘Space Day’ and the link-up itself. The exciting journey pupils have taken during the space programme at King’s High and Warwick Prep has expanded to a whole new dimension in learning, some may say has been ‘out of this world’! 

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Richard Nicholson, Headmaster at King’s High School
 “At both King’s High School and indeed across the Warwick Independent Schools Foundation we strongly encourage our pupils to develop their interests both inside and outside the classroom. This culture of empowerment led our Year 12 girl Eleanor to apply to ARISS Europe (Amateur Radio on the International Space Station) for the highly prestigious link-up to the International Space Station. For pupils from prep school aged four all the way through to King’s High girls of Sixth Form at the age of 18, this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience I’m sure they will never forget. I couldn’t be more proud of the initiative Eleanor took to kick-start our programme of space activity, and indeed the efforts of all those involved in making the ambitious programme of activity such a success. The pupils not only had first-hand exposure to some of the top experts in their fields, but were able to roll their sleeves up and get involved in practical experiments and activities – such as firing a rocket they’d made themselves in the school playground. In my mind, bringing learning to life in this way is a second to none experience.”

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