Reaching for the Shooting Stars in the Science Department

The William Perkin Science Department has won a prestigious Royal Society Partnership Grant of £3,000 for 25 students to work alongside Professor Monica Grady, of The Open University, Planetary and Space Science Dept.

Ms Kapila, who won the grant, said "I am really excited I have won this grant for the Science Department at William Perkin, as I believe it is projects like this that will encourage the students to pursue a career in the scientific industry."

Professor Monica Grady is well-known in scientific circles, at NASA and the European Space Agency, she came to the attention of the general public with her enthusiastic celebration when, as part of the Rosetta project, the probe Philae became the first-ever spacecraft to land on a comet - 67P - in November 2014. The spacecraft had taken ten years to journey through space and a decade was spent on the preparations.

Students will determine the composition of meteors by measurement of their spectra, as well as their origins and speed from their trajectories. They will observe data from two separate meteor showers: The Leonids (Nov), and the Geminids (Dec), which will be carried out on Tring Hill. In addition, they will learn about meteorite and micrometeorite collection techniques, and how to distinguish them from terrestrial rocks and dust using magnets, microscopes and spectroscopy.

Students will also observe showers using the The Open University's remote-access wide-angle camera located at an observatory in Majorca, and will compare results from the two locations (Tring and Majorca) for frequency, trajectory and composition. They will analyse and evaluate the data, and present findings to academics at The Open University, and hopefully at The Imperial Festival in Summer 2016 (as William Perkin is an outreach school).

Professor Grady will initially give a lecture to students at WP this term on Monday 19th October 2015, inviting them to apply to be part of it. Both Professor Grady and Ms Kapila will be selecting the students based on application thereafter.

Professor Monica Grady said: “It is really great news to get this funding, and I’m looking forward to visiting the school and meeting the students who will be working on the project. Fingers crossed for clear skies!”

You can find out more about Professor Monica Grady and her work on the Philae mission on Desert Island Discs:

Ms Kapila
Teacher of Science

William Perkin CofE High School

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