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Space Park Leicester opens doors to community

Science was brought to life for children from two schools during an open day at Space Park Leicester aimed at inspiring the next generation of space pioneers.

Youngsters watched experiments, did some 3D printing, played a carbon footprint game and experienced thermal imaging at the event held on Friday, November 26, to celebrate the £100million research, innovation and teaching hub home to space-related high-tech companies and researchers.

ITV Central captured the day

Members of the public also attended an open evening featuring presentations, guided tours and stands from organisations, including the National Centre for Earth Observation and the nearby National Space Centre.

Leicester West MP Liz Kendall, who was also given a tour of the building, said: “This centre is really important for Leicester, Leicestershire and the country too because there is a huge growth potential in space science and jobs in this sector. If we want to grow our country and give everyone a chance of a better life, investing in something like the Space Park is really important.”

Space Park Leicester is led by the University of Leicester in partnership with Leicester City Council and the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership (LLEP).

Dr Suzie Imber, Associate Professor in Space Physics at the University of Leicester, led a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) outreach workshop involving a water rocket experiment. She said: “You don’t have to be a scientist to be in the space industry, we need a whole range of people, such as engineers and technicians. We need people thinking about how we design the spacecraft of the future and how we keep people alive in space. It’s about the broader aspect of the space community.”

More than 70 Year 6 pupils from the local Inglehurst Junior School and over 60 Year 5 children from Queensmead Primary Academy, also located nearby, attended a series of workshops to put science into practice and learn about space exploration.

They also got the opportunity to learn about Leicester’s role in the development of the James Webb Space Telescope, NASA’s largest and most powerful science telescope ever constructed which is set to launch in December.

Elizabeth Peutherer, a teacher at Queensmead Primary Academy, said: “We are learning about space at school and the visit was about how those skills are used in reality and to broaden their learning. Letting them see and give them some ambition, showing them that that science isn’t just something they learn about at school, can really make a difference. Space Park Leicester is only 10 minutes down the road from where we are and it’s amazing to be so close.”

Most of the children said launching water rockets 50 metres into the air was the best experiment.

Dr Suzie Imber launches a water rocket

Pupil Keanna Ngwenya, aged nine, said: “I thought it was amazing. It was so exciting, I will tell my mum about everything I did. My favourite part was launching the water rockets outside.” Nine-year-old Arjun Singh added: “Launching the rockets was the best bit. I learned that the water bears can live in boiling water or freezing water or in space.”

In the evening, the centre opened its doors to the local community, with residents having the chance to learn about the projects being conducted and visit the labs that will be used for satellite design and build. John Sharpe and his wife Val, who lives in nearby Sudeley Avenue, attended the evening. He said: “It’s absolutely brilliant. I have watched it from the start. Our children attended the old John Ellis School, which used to be there before. It’s amazing to have this on our doorstep.”