Essex school pupils do experiments for TV Christmas Lectures

Toby Lovejoy helping do an experiment with Dr Kevin Fong. Photo: Paul Wilkinson

Toby Lovejoy helping do an experiment with Dr Kevin Fong. Photo: Paul Wilkinson - Credit: Archant

Two north Essex students helped with live demonstrations in this year’s annual Christmas Lectures from the Royal Institution.

Colne Community School pupil Anastasia Murphy, 14, and Colchester Royal Grammar School student Toby Lovejoy, 13, both helped lecturer Dr Kevin Fong with experiments.

The theme of this year’s lectures, in honour of British astronaut Tim Peake, is human survival in space.

Anastasia, from Brightlingsea, volunteered to demonstrate a “hard start” when igniting rocket fuel, testing a rocket inside a toy that exploded – showing how timing and the type of fuel used in rockets is critical.

She said: “I thought the lecture was really interesting. The hydrogen balloon was my favourite part, it was a real wow moment.

“It was great to learn all about the different orbits and how spacesuits work.

“Seeing the real-life astronauts was very cool, they seemed like real people. I’m thinking about being a human biologist in the future.”

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Toby, from Colchester, had his temperature taken to show what can happen to the body in space.

He said: “I thought the lecture were really fun and interesting. It was very cool to see what would happen inside my body if I went up into space without a spacesuit, like my blood boiling.

“I’d definitely like a career in science. I thought about being an astronaut but it seems quite daunting because it’s such a dangerous job, it would be an amazing experience though.”

Dr Fong said: “Today’s generation of young people are our future scientists, engineers and space explorers.

“We are at a really exciting point in space exploration. It’s incredible to think there have been people up in the International Space Station orbiting Earth since 2000.

“I want to get people watching this year’s lectures thinking about all the amazing things that we, as a species, are capable of doing, and to communicate the excitement I have always felt about the adventure of human space exploration.”

The lectures will be broadcast on BBC Four at 8pm on December 28-30, with Anastasia and Toby both appearing in the first episode.

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