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Students learn about Astronomer on Jodrell Bank Day

The activity day taught the students of Sir Bernard Lovell Academy about their school's namesake

Posted by Stephanie Broad | October 19, 2016 | Events

Students from Sir Bernard Lovell Academy recently visited the birthplace of their namesake to celebrate the Astronomer.

Children from five South Gloucestershire primary schools - Cherry Garden, The Meadows, Redfield Edge, St Anne’s and St Barnabas - joined the students of Sir Bernard Lovell Academy for the activity day. They also had the chance to meet Sir Bernard’s daughter, Judy Spence.

Astronomer Sir Bernard Lovell, who built the observatory’s radio telescope, was born in Oldland Common, near Bristol, in 1913 and the local secondary school bears his name. When Bitton Parish Council decided to put up a blue plaque to commemorate the scientist, and to stage an exhibition to teach children and families in the area about him and his work, it turned to Jodrell Bank, part of the University of Manchester, for help.

The team members, Jamie Sloan, Liz Bruton, and Julia Riley, were delighted to visit, as it gave them an opportunity to find out more about Sir Bernard and his origins as well, as telling the story of their own work.

Each of the schools has studied a specific area of Sir Bernard’s career, including his work on aircraft radar in World War Two, his development of the Lovell Telescope in the 1950s, his contributions in the Cold War and his international space research, as well as his early years and his life and hobbies until his death in 2011 at the age of 98.

They have created models and posters that will go on display at St Anne’s Church Hall after the plaque on his house in West Street is unveiled on November 12. The exhibition will then move to SBL Academy.

Arpana Vaid, Science teacher at the academy, said the project was a wonderful opportunity for students to learn how Sir Bernard helped discover more about the origins of the universe, and about his role in the early space race.

It was a privilege to work with the Jodrell Bank team and to meet Sir Bernard’s daughter - Arpana Vaid, Science teacher at Sir Bernard Lovell Academy

“It was a privilege to work with the Jodrell Bank team and to meet Sir Bernard’s daughter,” said Ms Vaid, who has a master’s degree in astrophysics. “The students are really excited to learn about mysterious radar echoes, meteors and cosmic radiation.” 

Students at SBL are also involved in the HiSparc project with the University of Bristol, in which they track cosmic rays using a detector on the school roof.

Charlotte Kington, 12, said: “We can monitor the cosmic rays using a laptop, which Sir Bernard Lovell could not do.”

Marley Toghill, 13, said: “I have learned lots of new things from the Jodrell Bank team.”

Judy Spence said her father would have been delighted to see that his work was continuing to inspire students and to know that he was being commemorated in his home village.

“I used to come here to visit my grandparents and I visited the school with Daddy. It is a lovely feeling coming back,” she said.

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