Gifted and Talented - Astronomy
Gifted and Talented Astronomy Afternoon – Monday 1st of July
The afternoon was organised for around 13 Year 9 students from Lawrence Sheriff and the same number from Etone College in Nuneaton. Comprising of two sessions, one on Time Travel and the more unusual forms and applications of physics, then the other on Astronomy and the position of celestial bodies within our own Solar System, they were led by Dr Johnson and Mr Oggelsby respectively.
Although Dr Johnson did cover an area of physics which he himself said he had been to a lecture on and become a bit confused about, his session covered a wide variety of topics that the vast majority of students had not covered before, from white dwarfs and how time travel could be achieved, to teleportation being possible and a solution for the grandfather paradox. It also featured a rather involving demonstration on the collapse of a red supergiant star to from a neutron star or black hole, on the aptly named “Chair of Death” which was essentially a poorly supportive chair mounted on a swivel. The demonstration involved holding weights in the fashion of a crucifixion, before pulling them in closer to achieve a faster spin and an even funnier sight when the volunteer got off the chair. All in all it provided a good start to the afternoon and taught many people about some of the quirkier aspects of physics they otherwise might not have come across, as well as the need to hold on properly to a spinning chair!
The second half of the afternoon was held by Mr Oggelsby and detailed the finer points of astronomy, including where to find particular constellations, galaxies or stars in the night sky. Using an advanced computer program, he showed how you could track different celestial bodies throughout the year, as well as which constellations in the night sky were developed from which stars, not least a dolphin that can apparently be developed from just three stars. Then students were given a selection of arts and drawing equipment, as well as rulers and compasses, and a sheet of the facts of the planets, NASA probes and other bodies in our own solar system, before being asked to represent some of this data on a sheet of A3, providing a fun end to the enjoyable afternoon.