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Astronaut ice cream and exploding marshmallows: Tayside Space School returns

16 April 2014

Dundee's future Neil Armstrongs will return to Abertay University on Saturday (April 19) for the next instalment of this year's Tayside Space School.

Back in March, the aspiring astronauts made their first foray into the world of space exploration when they learnt about the planets in our solar system and the stars and constellations that are visible in the night sky.

This weekend's event will see the Space School cadets sample ice cream made using liquid nitrogen and watch marshmallows explode, as they learn about the types of foods astronauts eat and what would happen to their bodies if they went into space without a space suit.

They will also look at the history of human exploration as they learn about Captain Scott’s voyages of discovery to the Antarctic, which were the Apollo Moon missions of their day.

Speaking ahead of the event, Dr Alan Bruce from Abertay University said:

"Space School is in its seventh year now and it’s going from strength to strength. The aim is to give the young cadets a chance to see how the things they learn about in science at school are used by scientists to explore outer space in real life, and to get them thinking that being an astronaut - or any kind of space scientist - is something they could do one day too.

"This weekend one of our forensic scientists - Joanna Fraser - will be teaching them all about vacuums and the effects that changes in air pressure have on the human body. This will involve putting marshmallows, shaving foam and latex gloves into a vacuum and watching what happens - exploding marshmallows is certainly a possibility!

"They'll also get to sample ice cream made using liquid nitrogen, milk and strawberries, because we'll be teaching them about the different techniques that were used in the past to make food that could be taken into outer space back when space exploration was still relatively new and they had to freeze-dry everything so that it would last a whole mission.

"These days of course, technology has moved on, but it's a great way to show how space technology is constantly evolving and that there are all sorts of different ways that science is used when it comes to space exploration."

Discovery Point Education Officer Brian Kelly, who will deliver the session about the history of human exploration, added:

"In the early twentieth century, Captain Scott's daring journeys into the unknown were as dramatic as the later Apollo Moon missions - very little was known about the destination, and the explorers had to survive with little or no contact with the outside world.

"Even today, the Antarctic continent remains one of the most hostile environments on Earth, and the scientific research stations there may provide the model for those that will be built by future colonists on the planet Mars.

"On Saturday, the Space School cadets will find out about living and working in polar regions - comparing modern clothing and diet with that available in Scott’s day - and discover more about the exciting science being carried out in the Antarctic today and what it can tell us about the Earth and our cosmic environment."

Tayside Space School is run by Abertay University in conjunction with Dundee City Council.

Further events will take place in May and June, with Space School culminating in a week-long summer school at Abertay in July.

During that week, an astronaut and Space Educator will visit from NASA to help run workshops - which 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 exploring outer space.


For media enquiries please contact Kirsty Cameron T: 01382 308935 M: 07972172158 E:

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