LEARNING your times tables or the periodic elements isn’t always rocket science.
But for a few pupils in Blaenau Gwent, that’s exactly what they have made it – so they can learn more about the universe in school.
Glyncoed Comprehensive is taking lessons out of this world in an effort to introduce more schoolgirls to science and engineering subjects.
Its pupils have been taking astronomy classes during lunch hours and after school as part of their GCSE studies.
To help with their coursework, they gained access to the Mauna Kea space telescopes at The Institute of Astronomy in Hawaii via the internet.
And more recently, they have also had their work published in the Schools Special Review journal published by the Association for Science Education, which examined how the subject has aided the curriculum at Glyncoed Comprehensive.
Maths and science teacher Mark Harris said the subject has received great feedback from the school’s pupils, some of whom have received A grades for their end of term examinations.
He said: “I was asked to find out how we could get more girls involved in “STEM” subjects – science, technology, engineering and maths – so I approached the University of Glamorgan to ask what they could do.”
Mark added: “For a couple of years now, they have been sending astronomy lecturers to our school to take part in practical and theory lessons and it has become so popular, they have expanded to Ebbw Vale Comprehensive too.
“Initially, it gave our pupils the opportunity to gain an extra GCSE grade but we have seen a lot more interest in our science and maths subjects, especially following shows like Stargazing, which featured recently on television.”
The course is broken up into two pieces of coursework with an exam at the end of term.
It covers four areas including the sun, planetary systems, stars, and galaxies and cosmology.
By using state-of-the-art telescopes in Hawaii and Australia, they were also able to see galaxies far, far away and nebulae in the night sky.
Sarah Roberts, astronomy lecturer at the University of Glamorgan working with Dark Sky Wales, said this is a great benefit to schoolchildren learning more about technology and physics.
“I think astronomy is an inspirational subject and something everyone is interested in,” she said.
“But a lot of people do not realise how much it involves technology, including maths and physics.
“Using tools on the other side of the world, the children are able to plan what the want to look at in space and how to present it in their work.”university of glamorgan, rocket science, Ebbw Vale Comprehensive, the Institute of Astronomy, astronomy classes, Association for Science Education <BR/>