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Exploring the final frontier

Date Posted: 05/12/2014

School: Wednesfield High School, Wolverhampton, West Midlands
KS: 3
Destination: Royal Air Force Museum Cosford, Shifnal, Shropshire

Meeting a Russian space scientist was a highlight of an exciting space day, which saw a large group of students explore the final frontier.

In addition to its outstanding collection of historic aircraft housed in three wartime hangars, RAF Cosford has exhibits that can be utilised for more futuristic studies.

Wednesfield High School, a specialist engineering academy, forged links with the high-flying attraction when its Cold War exhibit first opened.

Assistant head teacher and director of engineering Matt Smallwood explained: “RAF Cosford Museum offered their facilities at a Wolverhampton Technology Steering Group Meeting and invited us to come up with ideas on how we could utilise the space and the facility.

“We have since used the museum for many varied activities, such as engineering diploma classes working on aircraft and staff inset days.

“One of the events that worked particularly well was the Year 7 space day, with the whole group going to the museum and our own staff using the facilities to deliver the curriculum on the theme of space.”

Students were divided into groups of 12 and moved through different sessions throughout the day, looking at ways in which curriculum subjects interact and cross over in a common theme, such as history and the space race between east and west.

Other areas included studying rocket fuels in the propulsion laboratory, the science of the universe, robotic control and rocket building. A group of the school’s Year 10 Media Studies and Citizenship pupils also went along to film and report on the event.

Matt said: “The highlight of the event was bringing Dr Alexander Martynov over from Russia so that students had a first-hand description of what space is really like.

“He gave a lecture based on his own experiences and knowledge, along with footage of how Russian cosmonauts coped with living in space. It also gave us the opportunity to offer another lecture from Dr Martynov out to the community.

“It was held at Cosford in the evening and attended by parents, RAF and the Aeronautical Society.”

Dr Martynov was head of ballistics at the Russian mission control centre between 1968 and 1992, responsible for designing re-entry modules and ensuring the safe landing of spacecraft.

He remains actively involved in space as head of the foreign relations department for the city of Korolev, the hub of the Russian space programme.

The day also involved input from space expert David Shayler, chairman and founding member of the Midlands Spaceflight Society.

“The pupils found the day to be action packed at a fast pace where they enjoyed doing applied maths through propulsion lab or science through cosmic chemistry,” said Matt.

“They particularly liked coming out of the classroom to an inspirational environment where they could see the developments of Wernher Von Braun’s V1 and V2 rockets through to the space race exhibits that the museum offers.

“David Shayler was also a motivational speaker who combined a talk on the practicalities of living in space with hands-on activities for the students to understand the concepts and difficulties faced by astronauts.

“I would recommend RAF Cosford to other teachers because it offers free facilities in an inspirational environment. The museum supports and accommodates whenever possible and all you have to do is come up with an idea and plan the event around what is on offer at the museum.”

For more information contact RAF Museum Cosford on:

01902-376 200

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