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London school students take on space mission challenge

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For immediate use
Thursday 21 April 2005

Alka seltzer fuelled rockets and inflatable laboratories feature in the space missions challenges tackled by Year 9 pupils at Imperial College London this week.

Mentors at College

Over 300 students from schools across London are visiting the College to take part in GETSET (Get into Science, Engineering and Technology) which runs at Imperial's South Kensington campus during 18-21 April.

With Mars exploration as the theme of this year's event, teams of students are competing to create robotic devices that could be used to investigate the planet.

Building an inflatable structure large enough to house each team -- a Mars laboratory to analyse soil and atmosphere samples -- was their first task. Once completed, students went on to build and test their own space exploration robot landers, supervised and monitored by Imperial's science and engineering undergraduate volunteers.

The event is planned to encourage students' enthusiasm for science by demonstrating the different ways that their knowledge can be applied. Professor David Phillips, Imperial's Senior Science Ambassador to Schools and Dean of the Faculties of Life Sciences and Physical Sciences, explains:

"This course has been designed to really stimulate the imaginations of school pupils and help them to see how the science, engineering and maths skills they have learnt can be used in a practical way. It's great to see so many bright kids engaging with these activities creatively, amid preparations for their SATs this term.

Mentors at College

"Imperial runs a range of schemes like this but we never cease to be amazed at the inventiveness of the young people we meet and the enthusiasm they bring to their projects."

By trying out different designs, pupils explore concepts such as gravity, air resistance and acceleration, and connections between chemical reactions and physical effects. Each challenge is designed to encourage teamwork, problem solving and creativity.

Photographs of the event are available.

For further information contact:

Abigail Smith
Imperial College London Press Office
Tel: 020 7594 6701

Fiona MacMillan
Exscitec Programmes Manager
Tel: 01730 235688

Notes to editors:

Schools participating in this year's GETSET are:

From Waltham Forest:
Aveling Park
Holy Family
Walthamstow Girls' School
George Mitchell
Tom Hood

From Kensington, Chelsea and Westminster:
Greycoat Hospital School
Pimlico School
St Augustine's High School
St George's (Maida Vale)
St Marylebone CE School
St Thomas More
Westminster City School

GETSET at Imperial College London is organised by Exscitec.
Exscitec develops and delivers high calibre, hands-on problem solving learning experiences for a variety of clients. It delivers programmes to raise aspirations in the study of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) - for students at each key stage of the curriculum.

As an extension of the long standing partnership with Imperial College London, Exscitec is a STEM programme consultant to SETPOINT London Central, and works in collaboration with Local Education Authorities and Institutions to develop customised activities. Across its portfolio of programmes, Exscitec adapts learning objectives in order to cater for student groups with differing aptitudes.

Consistently rated in the top three UK university institutions, Imperial College London is a world leading science-based university whose reputation for excellence in teaching and research attracts students (11,000) and staff (6,000) of the highest international quality.

Innovative research at the College explores the interface between science, medicine, engineering and management and delivers practical solutions, which enhance the quality of life and the environment - underpinned by a dynamic enterprise culture.