For the past couple of months, we have been working on an exciting project that I hope will inspire the children at Bampton and leave a lasting legacy for our wider community.

We have been able to secure the opportunity of a ten minute “contact” with the International Space Station, using Amateur Radio. This means that children will be able to ask questions on a live feed to an astronaut on the ISS.

Such opportunities are extremely rare and we are the only state school in the UK to have such an experience in 2019.

We will be asking the children to submit questions that they would like to ask the astronaut and the children have been given some question sheets to take home with them for the holidays so that they can do some research and come up with thoughtful, inspiring questions. There is a selection of previously used questions on this sheet to give them some ideas. 

As you can imagine, with just ten minutes speaking to an astronaut, there will be a limit on how many children will be able to participate, however we have a representative from the UK Space Agency coming in on the day to answer lots of other questions as well.

I am sure there are some questions arising from this and I hope the following is useful to you:

When is this taking place?

We have been given a “contact week” of the 7th October. Because NASA is in control of the astronaut’s time, we will not know until much nearer the time the exact contact day. As a result we have built contingency plans in to be flexible. Even then, the contact week could change.

 

How does the contact happen?

There is an organisation called the ‘Amateur Radio International Space Station’ which oversees and facilitates each contact. They will bring in the technical equipment (some of which is very large) to track the Space Station as it arrives above the horizon. They will also coach the children about how to ask the questions and provide an informative and fun assembly to the children whilst we wait for the contact.

 

This sounds like an amazing opportunity; can I see any other previous school contacts?

Yes! There was a contact last year at Kenilworth School which is available here. To save you some time, please scroll through to ‘58 minutes’ where you can see what happened at that school and what to expect at Bampton.

 

Can I watch it myself on the day?

The good news is yes. ARISS provide a link live.ariss.org so that people can watch it from home or elsewhere. There will be a live link at the Riverside Hall for parents and other community members to watch it live and LARCs also may be screening it. Due to the amount of technical equipment and media presence, we will not be opening the contact assembly on site to everyone but there will be plenty of ways to get involved.

 

Will there be any other events around this contact?

Definitely.

To start with, we have changed the curriculum for the term to maximise the impact for the children. To that end, next term’s “topic” will be “Who’s there? Communication”. This builds nicely on from our work this term with “Best of Bampton” as we can explore oral history with the Bampton Heritage Centre, through to wider forms of communication (such as Amateur Radio) and STEM activities such as coding. Teachers have already received training on STEM ahead of our curriculum planning and we will also be running a series of afterschool clubs based on some of the themes.

The Exmoor Dark Skies Festival have also secured some funding so that the Planetarium will be hosted at Bampton School during the festival (which is the week after the contact).

We will also have a 3D ‘WOW’ experience during the first few weeks of term with a “Space Detective” Jo Richardson, an ESERO-UK Space Ambassador.

We are also in talks with various other local community members and organisations to encourage wider participation. So far we have had a fantastic response from everyone and we are sure there will be plenty of activities and events as a result of this opportunity.

 

What about safeguarding and GDPR?

We take safeguarding extremely seriously and will be sending home some consent forms soon, for you to consider the level of your child’s involvement. Any outside organisations involved in setting up on site will be working within the school’s safeguarding policy. As this is such a rare event for a rural school, there will most likely be some media presence. The consent forms will cover this.

 

I have some more questions!

That’s fine! Please send them to bampton.sch@alumnismat.org and we will answer them in due course.

I hope you agree that this is a fantastic opportunity for the children at Bampton and will really put Bampton on the map, leaving a lasting legacy that will inspire our children.

If you have any ideas or questions please don’t hesitate to get in touch. There will be more information for you at the beginning of next term so that we can answer any queries you might have and give you more information.

Gary Bladon, Head teacher

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