Solar Satellite Booklets at RAL
27 March 2018
Blog by Helen Mason

(click on photos to see more)

On 21st March 2018, the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, RAL, hosted a SunSpaceArt workshop for local schools. This was facilitated by Sophy Palmer. The workshop was very popular, with over 200 students wanting to participate, but we had to reduce the numbers to 60 (well 70 actually turned up!) plus teachers. The four schools taking part were:

  • Caldecott Primary School
  • Garsington CE Primary School
  • South Stoke Primary School
  • The Ilsleys Primary School

Helen Schell, artist and ESERO/UK space ambassador, planned and led the workshop in which the children were asked to design an illustrated booklet in the form of a satellite, about the Sun. The aim was to use STEAM educational techniques to reinforce the science learning with artistic expression (visual art and literacy). The SunSpaceArt team was well represented, with Dr Helen Mason, a solar scientist from the University of Cambridge, Dr Krishna Mooroogen, formerly a solar scientist, now working at the National Physical Laboratory, and Dr Dagny Kimberley Yousuf, a scientist and a creative. In addition, we were very fortunate to have a talk from Dr Alessandra Giunta, a RAL space solar scientist who is working on Solar Orbiter, ESA’s mission to the Sun, due to be launched in 2020. Everyone agreed, Alessandra’s talk was brilliant, and what a fantastic role model, especially for the girls.

The science educational element involved some talks, Q/A, and some science demonstrations of wave patterns with a Chladni plate and of Infra-red light. The children had plenty of opportunity to meet the scientists in small groups and ask lots of questions about the Sun, space, solar system, waves, sound and light ‘beyond the rainbow’. As usual, there were hundreds of questions!

Helen Schell led the artistic activities, which was quite a challenge with 70 children. She showed them some of her own art work, and examples of Sun, Moon and other booklets. She gave them guidance on how to get started and provided lots of colourful resources, together with STFC’s Sun brochure. The children made some really creative booklets, full of interesting information. The team were particularly impressed by the variation and quality of the finished booklets. Everyone seemed to enjoy the activities and learn a lot, both information and skills.