At the start of Year 11, gifted and talented pupils in science and maths at our school have the chance to go to Space Camp in Alabama, USA. Pupils miss one school week, but the trip could be made at other times. The event is magical, as they take part in everything they would have to do for a proper space mission. They experience weightlessness, g-force and all other aspects of space flight, culminating in a project where they work as a team to complete a space flight mission. They work in astronauts' boiler suits and sleep in dorms on the camp, so for the entire time they are there they live, eat and sleep as astronauts. Pupils not only put their prior knowledge to the test in a practical pressure situation but also learn new procedures and skills to put into practice on their return, especially in science and maths.
The experience is second to none and the pupils find it enjoyable as well as educational. Back at school, they talk through their experiences with other pupils, especially the younger ones who will have an opportunity to go in the future. This provides an incentive for pupils to aim to become high achievers by the start of Year 11. St Clere's is at the moment the only school in Europe to visit the Alabama Space Camp but they are hoping for more interest in future.
Colin Yeoman Gifted and talented co-ordinator, St Clere's Language College, Stanford-le-Hope, Essex
* Ken Lewis at St Clere's can provide more information, tel: 01375 641001 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org