NASA trip of a lifetime
Four very lucky students from Banbury Aspirations Campus Sixth Form have earned the opportunity to visit NASA in America. They take off on 13th February and return on 22nd February. Here are their impressions of the selection process.
The NASA selection experience by Soniya, maybe future Astronaut and Sixth Form student.
The journey of selection was full of excitement and suspense. The thought of being able to go to America and visit NASA has always been my dream and now that I have this opportunity I feel delighted to be able to take part. There were 12 of us at the beginning and only 4 for us could go; it was difficult to make any predictions as each of us was equally passionate to visit NASA. We had to write a letter describing why we should be selected and then, as a team, had to raise funds through cake sales to demonstrate our ability to raise money. We would eventually need to raise funding for the trip of about £10,000. After 2 weeks, we had to go through an intensive interview process for around 30 minutes describing what we were planning to do for our fundraiser and why we should be selected to go to NASA. After a few weeks, I got an email saying I was one of 4 people who was selected! I had to apply for a Visa as I am not a UK citizen as Nepal is not in the countries where an ESTA visa could be provided for their citizens.
I tried to email different companies asking for donations, some very generous companies did get back to me but some didn’t. We raised funds through donations from teachers and parents while providing tea and coffee for parents’ evenings and during the sixth form open evening. We did VR sessions during the Santa Fun Run and had meetings with Mr Sterland about the other ways we could raise funds. We had a meeting with Mrs Barringer explaining about our schedule and what are we expecting during the visit. I am really looking forward to this trip especially going to Houston and visiting Mission Control. I am also really excited about getting to talk with employees working at NASA. This is a really brilliant opportunity and I am really grateful to be a part of the NASA team.
The NASA selection experience by Toben, Sixth Form student.
The NASA trip had a relatively challenging selection process. We had to write an essay using the questions we were presented with by answering them in detail as honestly as possible. On average, it took us approximately 30 minutes, which I think we can all agree were the most nerve-wracking 30 minutes of the process. We then had to wait for the group of teachers and staff members to decide who was the best choice for the trip.
Insomnia, fear, and 30 minutes of doom were all worth it in the end though. I now have a trip to the world-famous facilities, that were used in accomplishing one of the greatest feats of human discovery: Apollo 11, to look forward to. I am looking forward to the tours of the site because it’s amazing to see the equipment they use for space travel, even if some of it is a bit retro. I am also looking forward to talking with some of the staff who work at NASA, they contribute to allowing humanity to achieve what was previously thought to be impossible, and are working in positions that most people struggle to achieve, which I personally think is quite amazing.
Year 13 Biology – Science Live
Four of the Year 13 Biology students came with me to Birmingham to attend an A-level Biology day called Science Live. We heard talks by eminent scientists including human fertility specialist Professor Robert Winston, research geneticist Professor Steve Jones, and science writer Dr Ben Goldacre. We heard fascinating talks about memory formation, eugenics, antibiotic resistance, the evolution of humans and the misuse of statistics.
In addition there were talks from an examiner, telling the students about common pitfalls in exam technique, and suggesting the best ways to approach revision.
The students found it interesting and informative, with lots of ideas from experts to make them think about real applications of Biology.
Dr Mary Brodey, Biology teacher
Sixth Form Students at the Houses of Parliament
On the 26th November a small group of Wykham Park Academy Sixth Form students were invited to London for a tour of the Houses of Parliament. The students were shown around all parts of this historic building including Westminster Hall, The House of Commons, The House of Lords and The Royal Robing Room. After the tour the students met with their local MP for North Oxfordshire, Victoria Prentis, for a brief insight into the life of an MP and what it means to play a key role in the UK’s democratic process. Victoria also answered questions put to her by the students on a range of local and national issues. The Horton hospital was discussed as well as school funding, Banbury Magistrates Court, criminal justice for youth offenders and even the prospect of a Nandos finding its way to Banbury soon!
The participating students (and teachers) would like to publicly thank Victoria for her time and for her unique insight into our democratic system.
Read Victoria’s tweet here: https://twitter.com/VictoriaPrentis/status/1067042618239004672
Safe Drive Stay Alive
The year 13 students attended the Safe Drive Stay Alive event in Oxford on the 22nd November. The Safe Drive Stay Alive campaign reaches new and pre-drivers in an emotive and hard-hitting way, influencing behaviour and attitude on the roads. The event is a firm fixture in the Sixth Form curriculum and we are thankful to Thames Valley and Hampshire Police, local councils and emergency services for running the event.
Year 12 What Career, What Uni? Event
On Friday 12th October, our Sixth Form students experienced What Career Live in London. The event enabled students to gain information about their future through workshops, talks, one-to-one advice and stalls from various universities and employers. One of our sixth formers said:
“This was a really good event to be at and a great opportunity to talk to universities and apprentices; they gave me a helpful idea of what different places offer. I recommend it to any sixth form student who’s unsure about what to do after A levels”.