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UK Space Agency hosts masterclass at Bridgwater & Taunton College

Bridgwater & Taunton College (BTC) hosted a masterclass for A Level physics students, in the form of an educational event organised by the UK Space Agency.

The agency serves as the inspiring and guiding force in the UK’s pursuit of excellence in space-related endeavours. It operates as an executive agency, under the sponsorship of the Department for Science, Innovation, and Technology.

The day was designed to foster a deeper appreciation of space-related themes and knowledge among eager young minds.

The masterclass featured an array of hands-on activities spanning various aspects of space exploration. The students explored a diverse range of topics, including the practical applications of satellites in tracking ocean temperatures using cutting-edge infrared imaging technology.

A highlight of the day involved an exploration of thermochromic paper and its role in illustrating the scientific principles behind ocean temperature tracking.

The masterclass also tackled the topic of planetary defence, a real and present challenge for the future. Students were engaged in discussions about safeguarding Earth from potential threats like rogue asteroids.

The concept of rogue asteroids in our solar system has evolved significantly over the past decade. Earlier views held that asteroids formed in specific regions and remained relatively static in their locations.

Recent research, including a comprehensive asteroid map developed by MIT and the Paris Observatory, reveals a different narrative, one explored during the masterclass to a class of intrigued students.

They also learned about the DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) mission and how the laws of physics and momentum are harnessed to prevent Earth-threatening impacts from space debris.

The students also took part in practical activities, including building balloon hovercrafts and making their own pressure rockets. These activities not only provided practical experiments, but also allowed students to connect their efforts to principles related to both projectile and linear motion.

The masterclass was deemed to be a huge success and Jill Gannon, Course Leader, said: “From start to finish, it was an incredible day, and we were thrilled to be able to host such an innovative and exciting Government agency. Our students left impressed and inspired, igniting their passions for science – and I’m sure for some, unveiling future career paths.

“I’m excited to work with the UK Space Agency again in the future, and our students would love to welcome them back to campus.”

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