Meeting a real-life Astronaut in Birmingham at King Edward VI Five Ways!!
On Thursday morning coaches and minibuses from all over Birmingham converged on King Edward VI Five Ways School, thanks to the support of the Ogden Trust, and disgorged over three hundred super-excited primary school children and fifty accompanying staff. They had all come to see their first real-life astronaut – Michael Foale – and he didn’t disappoint!!!!
Mike is the most experienced British born astronaut in the history of human space travel having flown on 6 Space Shuttle missions, a Soyuz and commanded the International Space Station. He was the first Briton to perform a spacewalk, during which he saved the Hubble Space Telescope.’
Mike’s first talk was to children from 30 Birmingham primary schools, most of whom had entered their own school’s competition to win a place, and around 400 KS3 pupils and sixth formers from King Edward VI Five Ways. The many budding-astronaut children left even more excited and motivated than when they had arrived!
One primary teacher wrote ‘It was just fantastic! He was truly inspiring and had the children from our school captivated. Thank you so much for offering us this once in a life time opportunity. ‘
Mike’s second talk of the day was to over 500 Y9’s, 10’s and 11’s and as many members of staff as could come (including lab & IT technicians, the gardener and many teachers)! Questions ranged from asking ‘ What we can do about space debris?’ and ‘How do you shower in a space station?’ to ‘Could you take a KFC to the ISS?’. The audience enjoyed watching Mike’s ‘home movies’ made for his family whilst on MIR and the ISS, particularly eating floating M&M’s and trying to control a large wobbling ball of water.
The final talk was open to the public and indeed they flocked in – from children in astronaut outfits (including a very well-behaved babe in arms), to some space travel enthusiasts who had come all the way from Yorkshire, an author of two books on the Hubble Telescope and some School groups. The welcome given to Mike was fantastic and both his talk and questions session were universally well received.
The visit was organised by Ogden Teacher Fellows Jenny Watson and Dan Cottle, through Chris Barber of the International Space School Educational Trust (ISSET – www.isset.org). This is a registered UK charity whose aim is to utilise space exploration to inspire and motivate young people to believe that they can become what they want to be. On behalf of all attendees, thanks to the Ogden Trust and King Edward VI Five Ways who sponsored this amazing event!!