GTS Pupils reach for the stars

Posted on: 15/11/2012

Great Torrington School were treated to a fascinating insight into an unexplored part of the universe and the life of an astrophysics researcher. Dr Jennifer Hatchell, a lecturer and researcher at the University of Exeter, presented an interactive and fascinating talk to pupils and their teachers, with guest pupils from surrounding institutions also attending.

Dr Hatchell’s talk, entitled ‘Newborn Stars and Unexplored Planets’, explored the science of our solar system, with the pupils volunteering to represent the heavenly bodies within it. It looked at exoplanets and how astrophysicists find out information about them and Dr Hatchell’s current research into new star formations, and how she gets the data from a mountain in beautiful Hawaii. Volunteers were given the opportunity to make their own molecules and find out about their prevalence in the universe. Questions from the audience ranged from the mysteries of dark matter, to budgetary concerns about building telescopes, to what life in Hawaii is like. The talk allowed the pupils to gain a real insight into the life of a university researcher.

The beautiful celestial images, and videos of models of speeded-up star formation captured the students’ imagination.  The talk was hosted by randomly selected schools in Devon and Cornwall; the week started at St Luke’s Science and Sport College in Exeter, and then went north to Great Torrington School on the northern coast of Devon, followed by school just north of Plymouth. It then moved to Cornwall, visiting Bodmin College, and lastly Penwith College in Penzance.

The tour was organised by IOP’s (Institute of Physics) South West Regional Officer Miranda Addey and funded by the South West branch of the IOP.

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