Reaching for the stars

4 April 2019

During the Spring academic term, the Trust has partnered with Dr Suzie Imber, Associate Professor in Space Physics at Leicester University and winner of the BBC’s Astronauts - do you have what it takes?”,for a tour of Ogden partnership schools in the South West of England.

Susie visited schools in Gloucestershire, Bristol, Devon, and Cornwall (as well as three primaries in London!), leading space assemblies and delivering her inspirational talks at school and family events. In total, more than 2,500 students have taken part in this incredible space journey with Suzie.

“This talk made me feel inspired and determined.”

During the tour, Suzie inspired students from across the year groups with tales from her life and her work: her incredible mountaineering achievements; the challenges she faced on the way to winning the BBC2 television show, Astronauts: Do You Have What It Takes?; and of course, her amazing work as a planetary scientist, including helping to design and build the x-ray spectrometer that is on the BepiColombo mission currently on its way to Mercury, and should help solve puzzles about how Mercury formed.

Throughout the tour, Suzie delivered her inspiring messages with enthusiasm; encouraging children to aim higher and motivating them to believe that anything can be possible with hard work and determination.

“I had the privilege of bringing 10 students to listen to [Dr Imber's] talk at Kingsbridge yesterday evening. [She] made an incredible impact on them. They are very academically able but generally lacking in confidence. [Dr Imber] inspired them to want to aim higher, in whatever they chose to do”
Teacher, Brixham College

At each event, the children were encouraged to ask Suzie questions and a whole range of topics were up for discussion, from planetary formation to how winning a tv show changes your life. Some big ideas got discussed, such as 'are we alone in the universe?' as well as some more prosaic ones, like 'how do astronauts go to the toilet in space?' Suzie answered them all with enthusiasm and great knowledge. Some students also got to experience some of the challenges she completed on the BBC, as they tested their engineering skills with a paper tower building challenge.

“I just wanted to email to say a big thank you for organising the talk by Suzie Imber this afternoon. What an interesting and engaging lady! Promoting science and presenting engaging (female) role models is fantastic; at the moment, Savannah (6) thinks she wants to be a scientist! When we got home, Savannah and her 3 year old sister proceeded to play ‘astronaut tests’ and ‘scientists’ using Savannah's microscope and a toy telescope! Dakota said that when she starts school in September, she wants to go to more talks like that one, so despite being 3, she clearly enjoyed it!
Parent praise
“Thank you for inviting us, the Year 7s have left with a new love for science. It was a truly informative and enjoyable session. Suzie mentioning that she wasn’t the best scientist at school but loved learning about physics and space raised the children’s aspirations and they came away knowing that failure is an important part of the learning journey.”
Head of Science, Farmors Secondary school
“I though her talk was very inspiring and made you think of how much you can do in life!”

In the summer term, Suzie will be visiting schools in Kent, the Isle of Wight and East Anglia as she continues to inspire and enthuse students with her stories.

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