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Space School odyssey continues at Abertay

19 April 2013

Space Cadets from primary schools across Tayside will descend on Abertay University this Saturday, for the next instalment in their Tayside Space School odyssey.

Tayside Space School runs every year, and gives children from Dundee and Perth the chance to see how the things they learn about in science at school get used by astronauts, and other types of scientists, to explore outer space.

Two sessions will run on Saturday: “Science in Space”, which will be delivered by Forensic Scientist Joanna Fraser, and “Building a Sustainable World on Mars”, which will be delivered by Sociologist Dr Jim Moir.

Speaking ahead of Saturday’s event, Space School organiser Dr Alan Bruce from Abertay University, said:

“We’re delighted to be welcoming this year’s crop of young space cadets to Abertay this weekend.

“Space School kicked off back in March with a visit to the Dundee Science Centre and Discovery Point, where they learnt about the planets, the solar system, and the idea of exploring the unknown.

“On Saturday, we’ll build on what they’ve learnt so far, with sessions that’ll give them an idea of how science is used to explore in space – for example, to build spaceships, to detect life on other planets, to find new planets, and even the particular health challenges that astronauts face. Importantly it will also let the children see that science and technology pervade through all aspects of our daily lives, from watching TV and talking on our mobile phones, to designing and manufacturing new engineering applications.

“This is the sixth year we’ve run Space School and it’s always a lot of fun for all the pupils, teachers and Abertay staff who are involved. Hopefully the children will enjoy the day, and leave feeling inspired and excited about what we’ve got in store for them at the next event in May.”

Dr Jim Moir, who will deliver the “Building a Sustainable World on Mars” session, explains what it will involve:

“The idea behind ‘Building a Sustainable World on Mars’ is to encourage the children to think about why Mars is so special to us humans and how we might think about eventually making the planet more habitable for us to live on – what is known as terraforming.

“We’ll begin by looking at what Percival Lowell thought he saw on Mars in the 1890s – canals. We’ll then consider H.G. Wells and the "War of the Worlds" and the idea of alien life coming to Earth. From there we’ll 'go to Mars' and think about what we would do on the long journey of just under a year.

“After that we’ll speculate about the distant future and the idea of terraforming Mars: what would we do if there were Martian microbes? Should we leave Mars as it is? Or should we try to change it and make it more habitable for humans?

“Finally we’ll come back to the present day and look at the exciting things being found by the Curiosity rover that has been sent to explore a part of Mars for signs that it could have supported life in its distant past.”

The “Science in Space” session delivered by Joanna Fraser will involve looking at vacuums, using latex gloves and marshmallows to explain how they affect the human body.

Joanna will also discuss the effect of temperature and how different food stuffs used to be prepared to be taken into space. She will demonstrate this by making ice cream with liquid nitrogen, which the pupils will be able to sample.

Further Space School events will take place in May and June, and Space School will culminate in a week-long summer school at Abertay University in July with a similar separate event running in Perth College for pupils from Perth & Kinross primary schools.

During that week, an astronaut and Space Educator will visit from NASA to help support local primary school teachers to run workshops, which will include “Mission to Mars” and “Rocket Launching”, where the children will get to carry out their own experiments and have the chance to ask any questions they may have about what it takes to get a job in the field of space exploration.


For media enquiries please contact Kirsty Cameron T: 01382 308935 M: 07922041198 E:

Notes to Editors:

Space School is run by Abertay University in conjunction with Dundee City Council and Perth & Kinross Council Education Departments, Dundee Science Centre and Discovery Point.

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