Ground Control Day sees pupils prepare for space station link up with astronaut Tim Peake

PUBLISHED: 07:00 13 February 2016

Pupils from schools across Norfolk take part in the space themed

Pupils from schools across Norfolk take part in the space themed "Ground Control Day" at City of Norwich School. George Gardner((Mulbartonn Junior), Imogen James(Norwich Schoool) and Riley Merril(Caister Junior) with planet models. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY


It may only last 10 minutes, but it will be the chance of a lifetime for a group of Norfolk children preparing to question a British astronaut live in the International Space Station.

Ahead of the link up with Tim Peake, the first publicly-funded UK astronaut, later this month, 120 pupils aged 10 to 18, from 21 schools across Norfolk and Suffolk, gathered at City of Norwich School for a special Ground Control Day.

As well as a keynote speech from Helen Mason, a reader in solar physics at Cambridge University, yesterday’s event covered the technical side of the radio link itself, and issues to do with physics and space more generally.

Tim Hare, a Year 10 pupil at CNS who is himself a radio ham enthusiast, will act as compare for the space linkup, and said: “It’s going to be incredible. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity that very few people will be able to have.”

Maddy Flett, a Year 8 pupil at CNS, said science is “not a subject I would jump to first”, but she really enjoyed Ground Control Day.

She is one of 10 pupils chosen to question Mr Peake, and will ask what astronauts do if they cut themselves.

Asked how she came up with the question, she said: “I’m pretty clumsy and I couldn’t really think of another question.

“It might blob up because we watched him do it with tears on his face, and it went on his face and blobbed up.”

The successful bid to hold a linkup with Mr Peake was made by the Norwich School, CNS, and Reepham High School.

Stephanie Grant, a Norwich School teacher who helped organise yesterday’s event, said: “The whole thing is a big warm up for two weeks time when we are going to talk to Tim Peake from the International Space Station. It’s to inspire them and to get them excited about the event.”

She said she had been impressed by questions the children came up with, and added: “They have been amazing. Some of them have been quite scientific or about what might be happening to astronauts’ bodies, and others have been quite philosophical. It’s been a really good range from a really good range of ages.”

Kate Nichols, assistant headteacher at CNS, said: “It’s so exciting to know we are going to be talking to the International Space Station. I saw it fly over last night and I think it’s going to be quite emotional, actually.”

Max Clayton, who is in Year 5 at Norwich Lower School, will ask Mr Peake how the lack of natural sunlight and fresh air affects him.

He said Ground Control Day had been great preparation, and added: “It’s really fun. It’s nice to listen to some of the jobs that people do. We have been talking about the top 10 foods astronauts eat. Soya beans are the top ones, and potatoes and tomatoes are other ones.”

But does Max see himself following in Mr Peake’s footsteps?

“I wouldn’t want to be an astronaut because I wouldn’t like to be flying around in space, but I would like to know a bit more about it”, he said.

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