The £100 million Space Park Leicester opened its doors to dozens of youngsters to show them a fun way of getting into space technology as a future career.
The University of Leicester-led research, innovation and teaching hub hosted experiments, 3D printing shows and demonstrations of thermal imaging, among other things, for school pupils from around the region.
In the past few months the facility has become home to space-related high-tech companies and researchers and a place for collaboration to take place between academia and industry.
A central part of its operations will be the use of satellite data to help improve life down on earth.
Members of the public also attended an open evening featuring presentations, guided tours and stands from organisations including the National Centre for Earth Observation and the nearby National Space Centre.
Leicester West MP Liz Kendall, who was given a tour of the building, said: “This centre is really important for Leicester, Leicestershire and the country too because there is a huge growth potential in space science and jobs in this sector.
“If we want to grow our country and give everyone a chance of a better life, investing in something like the Space Park is really important.”
The university developed the Space Park in partnership with Leicester City Council and the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership (LLEP).
Dr Suzie Imber, Associate Professor in Space Physics at the University of Leicester, led a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) outreach workshop for young guests involving a water rocket experiment.
She said: “You don’t have to be a scientist to be in the space industry, we need a whole range of people, such as engineers and technicians.
“We need people thinking about how we design the spacecraft of the future and how we keep people alive in space. It’s about the broader aspect of the space community.”
More than 70 Year 6 pupils from the Inglehurst Junior School and more than 60 Year 5 children from Queensmead Primary Academy, both located nearby, attended workshops putting science into practice and learn about space exploration.
They also got the opportunity to learn about Leicester’s role in the development of the James Webb Space Telescope, NASA’s biggest and most powerful science telescope which is set to launch in December.
Elizabeth Peutherer, a teacher at Queensmead Primary Academy, said: “We are learning about space at school and the visit was about how those skills are used in reality and to broaden their learning.
“Letting them see and give them some ambition, showing them that that science isn’t just something they learn about at school, can really make a difference.
“Space Park Leicester is only 10 minutes down the road from where we are and it’s amazing to be so close.”
Pupil Keanna Ngwenya, aged nine, said: “I thought it was amazing. It was so exciting, I will tell my mum about everything I did. My favourite part was launching the water rockets outside.”
Nine-year-old Arjun Singh said: “Launching the rockets was the best bit. I learned that the water bears can live in boiling water or freezing water or in space.”
In the evening, the centre opened its doors to the local community, with residents having the chance to learn about the projects being conducted and visit the labs that will be used for satellite design and build.
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