Monday 5th February
Missing you sweetie
I give my love completely
Here on this earth, so briefly
Safe in my heart, absolutely
This evening we attended The Cornwall Lecture, presented by Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock MBE, the fabulously enthusiastic astronomer and new host of the Sky at Night.
She described how she achieved her ‘crazy dream’ of working in the space industry….. starting with her childhood favourite television programme of Star Trek and being inspired by The Clangers. (I immediately thought of you then, and smiled. Especially when a super large image of the crew of the Starship Enterprise was projected behind her speaker’s podium. You loved all those space series, and collected numerous video box sets). Uhura was Dr Maggie’s favourite, and she showed us an image she treasures of herself, her daughter, and the actress. Lieutenant Uhura was one of your favourites too.
The lecture “Innovation ~ The Big Picture”, described an amazing opportunity for Cornwall to have its own Spaceport at Newquay, with the capability of launching satellites and housing enormous space telescopes.
In her talk, Dr Maggie explained how she enjoys visiting schools and sharing her love of space with students. It will be these young people who may go on to enjoy space travel, colonisation of the moon, and beyond. Her phrase “The desire to aspire” was used throughout; an opportunity to do different things; think differently; where aspiration is the ripple that leads on to the stuff of dreams.
In 2001 I visited Cape Canaveral in Florida with a group of maths and science schoolteachers from Cornwall, to study with a group of space educators and space scientists based at the Kennedy Space Centre. We had an amazing ten days of collaboration, sharing ideas for lessons, visiting the launch complex and meeting NASA astronauts.
In 2007, myself and another teacher took sixteen students to Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama. An awesome opportunity for these youngsters to ‘train’ as an astronaut, to experience ‘zero gravity’ whilst scuba diving, or to operate the Canadarm whilst on a simulated shuttle mission.
I do believe it is the duty of a teacher to fire up a spark in young students, to show opportunities available, to excite their imagination and inspire the seeking of knowledge. To give them the ‘Wow Factor’. Back then, I don’t think the curriculum was as prescriptive as it is now, as well as budgets being much tighter. (I’m not sure that we could do the same as we did then, nowadays.)
Following on from my visits to America with the school, I was fortunate to gain funding to help create a series of lessons using video conferencing to work with the National Space Centre in Leicester. Students were given space-related tasks and challenges by Mission Commanders, working in teams, against the clock. Exciting times using educational technology.
One of my students went on to work at the Large Hadron Collider in Cern, another is a teacher of A level science, another works with an MEP in Brussels, one is an Olympic athlete, others live and work in Australia, Chile, the Maldives, France, Canada and America. So many have achieved their dreams and are taking their knowledge on to new generations.
I hope I have inspired and motivated some of my students to seek out their fullest potential, and as Steve Jobs once said: “To put a ding in the universe”.
Thinking of you
My little Starman