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UK youngsters gain STEM career insights at Space Camp

Lockheed Martin has joined forces with the National Space Academy and Viasat to host dozens of young people at a week-long Space Camp at the University of Sunderland.

Courtesy Lockheed Martin

This was recently followed up with a similar event in the south of the country, held near Viasat’s London office, where another 30 pupils also got an introduction to the possibilities of a career in space.

The North East and London events were a huge hit, with pupils from years 6, 10 and 12 who attended the week, giving them a real taste of the possibility of working in the space industry and hearing first hand from those involved.

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The space camps were centred around three key themes – sustainability in space, innovation and entrepreneurship and the career pathways in the UK space sector.

Among those taking part was a group from Sunderland’s Hill View Junior Academy and teacher Chris Walton said the young people absolutely loved it: “They told me they loved having some of the visitors in showing them different things, especially the person who brought in meteors and an actual piece of the Apollo 11 rocket. They loved programming the robots to dance and sumo wrestle.

"They told me all about learning about different satellites and rockets like the Saturn Vs and Artemis rockets, learning how rockets worked and getting to launch their own rockets.

“They enjoyed making a 'fairing' to protect an egg payload in a satellite. They couldn't wait to tell me about the different activities they did and the different visitors who spoke to them.

“They clearly had an amazing time taking part in all the activities and meeting new friends. I think it's really inspired them and given them opportunities to broaden their understanding of space and aeronautics that they wouldn't get in the classroom.”

Chris’ words were echoed by staff and pupils from St Leonard’s Catholic Academy, Durham, who were among the year 12 pupils who took part.

Aisling Stewart, Head of Science said their Year 12 physicists “jumped at the chance” to be involved.

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“As a science department, we are always on the lookout for ways to contribute to our pupil's "cultural capital,” she said.

“With the fantastic universities on our doorstep and many stem industries in the local region we are blessed, yet it is well documented that the North East is experiencing a STEM skills workforce gap, which is why it is so important for our young North East scientists to be introduced to and involved in new opportunities like this one.”

Pupils at the school were quick to agree. Sixteen-year-old Zac Bremner described Space Camp as “an amazing experience”.

“We’ve learned so much in such a short time. I’ve always thought about being an aerospace engineer but I never thought it could be possible – or how I would go about it.,” he said.

“Getting the opportunity to talk to people who work in this industry as well as doing practical tasks has been an amazing opportunity.”

Fellow pupil William Hollicks (16) admitted that: “First I was a bit sceptical about coming to Space Camp but I am so glad I didn’t miss it.

“It has been really useful and it was fantastic to hear from people who work in the industry tell us about everything that is possible. It is so exciting.”

Lockheed Martin is currently working closely with Northumbria University on a number of space-related initiatives.

In 2022, the company announced a collaboration with Northumbria University that includes an initial planned investment of up to £630,000 to support the development of skills, research and technology across the region.

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