Reaching for the stars

2 July 2018

Last month, Ogden Consultant Amanda Poole was privileged to attend the interment of Professor Stephen Hawking at Westminster Abbey.    

Professor Hawking’s voice was beamed live into a black hole while his ashes were interred between Sir Isaac Newton and Sir Charles Darwin. The late scientist's words were set to an original piece of music, composed by Vangelis, for the Service of Thanksgiving, and offered a message of peace and hope. The broadcast in space took place following the memorial service which featured readings and addresses from people in the world of film and science, as well as friends and family of the late, great scientist.  

One thousand members of the public, from more than 100 countries, were offered the opportunity to attend the thanksgiving service, after a ballot attracted 25,000 applications for tickets.

Amanda tells us more about her experience of the day, and the work that she is now doing to contribute to Professor Hawking’s legacy.

Professor Hawking’s internment at Westminster Abbey was a very special day to honour an extraordinary life and I just can’t put into words how privileged I felt to be there. I was invited because the Stephen Hawking Foundation, established on the initiative of Professor Hawking to facilitate research into cosmology, astrophysics and fundamental particle physics both at school and university level, has provided me with funding and encouragement to find a way to continue to develop the Space Camp UK project that I established from the Phiz Lab in Leamington Spa in 2014. 
I was able to develop and deliver the first phase of the Space Camp project when I won the Let Teacher's SHINE competition, run by the education charity SHINE in 2014. SHINE has continued to support the Space Camp programme which has now been rolled out to another 32 schools across the UK.

The new home for Space Camp UK will be the Phiz Lab at Chipping Campden School with funding of £100,000 from the Stephen Hawking Foundation to support the development of 20 Space Camp Partnerships across the UK in the next two years. SHINE continues to support the project too. We are currently recruiting Ogden primary partnerships who have come to the end of their funding and are looking for new opportunities for collaboration and CPD in primary science. We are also interested in hearing from existing partnerships in the north of England who are interested in adding Space Camps to their collaborative projects.

Partnership will need to include six or more primary schools who have a successful track record of working together to develop primary science education in their schools. Each school in the partnership must agree to running one Space Camp a year in their school – a Space Camp is a one-night residential learning experience run in school by the teachers and staff from that school. It is a sustainable project that provides a rich learning experience for children, developing their understanding of space science and space exploration. 

Partnerships will receive a basic set of equipment to get their Space Camps off the ground including tents, camping equipment, a telescope and additional resources. Teachers from all schools in the partnership will attend an introductory CPD day to get them started as well as a follow up visit by a Space Camp Ambassador who will model leading a space themed workshop in the classroom as well as providing support with planning their Space Camp. We have also arranged for all participating schools to receive support and funding to work for the Space Education Quality Mark (SEQM) in recognition of the developments they have made.

In the last phase of the Space Camp project, we managed to arrange visits by the NASA Astronaut Michael Foale to all of the new partnership schools so that the children got to find out all about living and working in space. We are currently working on doing this again with the new partnerships as well as developing links with universities to find astronomers, astrophysicists and cosmologists who are able to come and talk to the children about their work. It is going to be a very exciting couple of years! This will be a great project for partnership schools to build upon the Phizzi Earth & Space CPD that many of them were involved with last year.

I was exceptionally honoured to be sat in Westminster Abbey as Professor Hawking’s memorial stone was put in place beside the resting place of Sir Isaac Newton and I now feel a huge sense of responsibility to ensure that the Space Camp UK project makes a fitting contribution to his legacy.  

Any Ogden primary partnerships who are interested in getting involved should email Amanda, to find out more. 

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