Falcon heavy successfully launched into space.

Friday 6th February 2018, after a five year delay on initial launch plans, the SPACEX FALCON HEAVY rocket took to the skies.

Three Falcon 9 nine-engine cores, strapped together, whose 27 Merlin engines together generated more than 5 million pounds of thrust at liftoff, (equal to approximately eighteen 747 Boeing aircraft), launched the Falcon 9 rocket into space.

The SpaceX Falcon 9 Heavy has been designed to carry humans into space, flying manned missions in the near future to a moon base and on further than ever before to Mars.
But this inaugural  flight allowed owner entrepreneur Elon Musk to have a little “fun”, sending his red Tesla car as payload, which was released from the fairing into space, to the sound of David Bowie’s A Space Odyssey!

The car with droid driver will eventually orbit Mars!

Two of the three reusable engine boosters, landed back on Earth successfully, however the third failed to reignite, and did not return to land on a drone ship out at sea as planned, unfortunately crashing into the sea taking out at least two of the nine engines.

However this is a relatively minor setback, compared to what has actually been achieved this week by Elon Musk, history has been made by SpaceX!



Potential Hazardous Objects (PHO’s) and Near Earth Objects (NEO’s)

Asteroid 2002 AJ129 will make a close approach to Earth on February 4th, at its closest the asteroid will be no closer than 10 times the distance between Earth and the Moon approximately 4.2 million kilometers.

Asteroid, computer artwork.

2002 AJ129 is an intermediate-sized near-Earth asteroid, somewhere between 0.5 km and 1.2 km acros, was discovered back in 2002, by the former NASA-sponsored Near Earth Asteroid Tracking project at the Maui Space Surveillance Site, Hawaii. The asteroid’s velocity at the time of closest approach, 34 km/s is higher than the majority of near-Earth objects. The high flyby velocity is a result of the asteroid’s orbit, which approaches very close to the Sun, at about 18 million km. Although asteroid 2002 AJ129 is categorized as a Potentially Hazardous Object, it poses no actual threat of collision!
The gigantic asteroid will hurtle past our planet in around two weeks time.
The 2002 AJ129 asteroid has been classed a ‘potentially hazardous’ by Nasa and will fly past at speeds of 107,826kmh.

Anything flying closer than six million miles of our planet is a near earth object (NEO) and could cause severe damage were it ever to crash into Earth.
Deflecting an asteroid on an impact course with Earth requires changing the velocity of the object by less than an inch per second years in advance of the predicted impact.
Nasa is currently moving forward with a refrigerator-sized spacecraft capable of preventing asteroids from colliding with Earth. A test with a small, nonthreatening asteroid is planned for 2024.
This is the first-ever mission to demonstrate an asteroid deflection technique for planetary defence.
The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) would use what is known as a kinetic impactor technique—striking the asteroid to shift its orbit.

Presently there are 17,495 known Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) around our planet; 17,389 are asteroids.

How does a Super Moon cause flooding?


January 1st 2018 Effects of the Super Moon on Lymington and surrounding areas in the forest.

Astronomers use the term perigee to describe the moon’s closest point to Earth, from Greek words peri meaning “near” and gee meaning “Earth”. Because the moon has an elliptical orbit, one side – called the perigee is about 48,280 km (30,000 miles) closer to Earth than the other side (the apogee).

When the sun, the moon, and Earth line up as the moon orbits Earth, that’s known as syzygy. When this Earth-Moon-Sun system occurs with the perigee side of the moon facing us, and the moon happens to be on the opposite side of Earth from the sun, we get what’s called a perigee-syzygy causing the moon to appear bigger and brighter than usual, known as a supermoon – or more technically, a perigee moon.

Tides work through a differential gravitational effect, with the force of gravity exerted on the far side of Earth, as seen from the moon is slightly less than the force of gravity exerted on the part of the Earth directly beneath it.  Because of the additional distance of approximately 8,000 miles from one side of Earth to the other, the force of gravity weakens rapidly with increasing distance, producing this differential.  So our planet is stretched slightly, along a line between the Earth and moon, the body of the Earth is fairly rigid, so it does not stretch much, but the liquid oceans are much more easily moved; causing tidal bulges.  This differential is increased by the moon being at it’s closest point, producing much higher Perigean tides.

Look out for the Super ‘Blue’ Moon January 31 2018, last chance until  2019!



AND THE WINNERS ARE…Pippa and Chloe!

Well done girls, your 3D printed penguin will fly or float or fall?

Priestlands Penguin…

We will find out next year after it’s trip into space in April 2018.

But seriously well done to all who took part, it has been fun and you are all ‘Team Priestlands’ sending a microsculpture into microgravity!

Part of the rocket where the Microsculptures will be housed before their release.

The competition winning design will be part of the experiment to test novel 3D imaging techniques by tracking the trajectory and interaction of objects and particles in a micro-gravity environment (lunar regolith simulant, and sculptures designed by school and college students)

Journey into Space – April 4th 2018

SμGRE-1 will travel on board the NASA WRX-R sounding rocket on a sub-orbital trajectory. Payloads will experience micro-gravity for approximately 5 minutes (total flight time 30 minutes). Once the primary mission is completed, we will release the sculptures and film them in microgravity floating inside the payload part of the rocket.

Return to Earth

The WRX-R rocket payload will tumble and deploy a parachute before splashdown and recovery from the Pacific Ocean. SμGRE-1 will then be collected and the sculptures returned to the schools, along with the 3D video of them in flight.

We hope for a successful flight and recovery from the Pacific Ocean, and look forward to seeing the film; what will happen to a tiny flightless penguin in space?


YEAR 7 STEM Club micro-sculptures update!

Micro-sculptures in Micro-gravity

Modelling is now well underway…

…but still secret, until the judging on 13th December!
Although after researching, planning, measuring and weighing, to meet the competition criteria it has meant that ideas have been modified, materials have been changed, manufacturing processes altered, all while deadlines are getting closer…
…welcome to the real world of Engineering!
Keep up the good work year 7.

Year 7 STEM Club, micro-sculpture designs are taking shape!


In April 2018, from the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean, this rocket will launch taking 250 tiny sculptures from schools and colleges nationwide, into zero gravity.  They will be filmed on release, as part of an experiment for a UK digital analytics company, their ‘flights’ will be recorded, with copies being sent back to participating schools; if the rocket survives re-entry and is safely recovered!

Priestlands School will hopefully be represented onboard with a micro-sculpture carefully researched, designed and produced as part of Wednesday’s year 7 STEM Club.

Sugar Cube on a Teaspoon

Maximum size of a sugar cube, and weighing no more than 4 grams, our enthusiastic young future engineers are working on maximum volume to minimum weight principles, while competing with each other to produce the winning design, to then represent Priestlands and send their design into space!!

Creative ideas, drafts, and material research has been taking place this half term, prior to making and refining next month, before finally presenting their models for judging in December.

The winning design will be announced at the end of term…

… Good Luck!

Priestlands Science/STEM Club launch!!

 September 2017

STEM (science, technology, engineering & maths)

We are starting the new term with an exciting science design challenge for our new year 7 students…

…SuGRE!  Schools micro-gravity Rocket Experiment!

A School competition to design and build micro-sculptures, with the winning entry being sent into suborbital microgravity onboard a NASA rocket next April!

Look out for further details on the pupil post, and posters in Science and Technology.

Come along and join the fun!

Wednesday lunchtimes, 1-1:30 in S11.

For full competition details check out the website http://www.sugre-1.com

Popcorn and Moles…Year 8 Science Masterclass

Super speedy popping popcorn! with Mr Boultwood, for our future physicists. Followed by,
Is it Safe to Swim in that Pool? with Miss Cooil, for the budding analytical chemists.



Over 40 year 8 students undertook the challenges, to calculate the speed of popcorn, and determine the unknown molarity of an acid.


The Popcorn Challenge:
To calculate the speed of popcorn kernels as they pop.
Firstly the students discussed types of energy, then decided which forms would be involved in their experiment, what they would need to measure and how they would work out the speed.

The practical was to weigh individual kernels, then heat the popcorn, and measure the height the kernels ‘jumped’.

It was certainly fun, corn popping all around the lab, taking some of us by surprise, all with the lovely smell of popcorn!

Next came the hard work…the speed calculations, using:

Gravitational potential energy=mass x height x gravitational field strength

So what is the speed of popcorn?

Answer: 9.9 meters per second!!

The Molarity Challenge:

To work like an analytical chemist, and determine the molarity of an unknown acid which had been spilt in a swimming pool.

The students learnt to carefully and correctly use titration equipment; pipettes, fillers and burettes.

To understand using phenol phthalein indicator to find an end point, then carry out a titration using a 1 M base (NaOH), in order to calculate the molarity of the unknown acid (HCl).


Next came the mathematical part of the challenge, to calculate the unknown molar solution, using the triangle…

Answer: The acid was a 0.8 M solution, lots of the students were spot on or very close! 

Both master classes were exciting, dynamic, fun and full of learning, with new equipment and techniques. The students then had to perform trials, collect results, make mistakes, understand and learn from their errors, before moving on to confidently formulate answers from their calculations. Well done to you all who took part!


YOUNG ENGINEERS – A Year 7 Masterclass with Marcus!

On Monday 19th June, Priestlands Science hosted an Energy Quest Masterclass for 24 Year 7 students.

The session was led by Marcus Cherrill, formerly a science teacher from Brighton, now promoting Engineering within schools.
Marcus is an innovative educator with over twenty years teaching experience, working in a variety of schools. He has delivered training to schools around the world on a wide range of teaching and learning topics. His background as an outstanding science teacher and senior leader brings a depth of understanding of school needs, allowing schools to find practical, sustainable solutions.

Sustainable Engineering

“What we do in our world to make things better.”

The morning was divided into three sessions:
Session 1
Understanding Energy; students engaged in discussion of renewable (wind, solar, wave), non-renewable (fossil fuels, nuclear), and sustainable (hydroelectric, geothermal) forms of energy.

By 2050 there will be approximately 9 billion people on our planet, fossil fuels are running out, nuclear fuels are not sustainable, what can we do?
What will our engineers of the future do?

Session 2
The Engineering Design Process

Using 2.5v capacitors, solar panels and the glorious sunshine to charge them, the students were given the equipment to build solar cars. Then following the engineering design process cycle, they tested and modified and retested according to their results.

This was followed by two challenges:-

Firstly how far the cars would go on 1 volt.

Secondly how far the cars would go, when fully charged at 2.5 volts.

Lewis and Owen, the winning pair left the 30m finish line far behind achieving an awesome 48 meters!!! Well done boys!

Session 3
What does an Engineer look like?

Hearing from young engineers about their work; from building the London Olympic Stadium, transporting gas from offshore platforms to our shores, to music recording and wave compression by a sound engineer. Engineering is important everywhere, in all aspects of modern life. Who knows what innovative designs our young engineers could create in the future?

“Thank you Marcus for a brilliant session; science, learning, fun and hopefully some future inspiration.”

DRAGON IN SPACE! Saturday Sees Successful Launch for SpaceX



Dragon is a free-flying spacecraft designed to deliver both cargo and people to orbiting destinations.  Dragon made history in 2012 when it became the first commercial spacecraft in history to deliver cargo to the International Space Station and safely return cargo to Earth.  It is the only spacecraft currently flying that is capable of returning significant amounts of cargo to Earth.  Currently Dragon carries cargo to space, but it was designed from the beginning to carry humans.  Under an agreement with NASA, SpaceX is now developing the refinements that will enable Dragon to fly crew. Dragon’s first manned test flight is expected to take place as early as 2018 (SpaceX).  And in the future, the dream, human transportation to Mars…

Saturday’s successful launch finally took place after delays due to bad weather.It is the first time SpaceX has attempted to reuse one of its Dragon cargo capsules for an active orbital mission.  Reuse of the Dragon, along with reuse of its Falcon 9 rockets, is key to SpaceX’s long-term profitability.
SpaceX will recover its Falcon 9 first stage at its LZ-1 landing pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, where it landed successfully, upright on the landing pad approximately eight minutes after lift-off.


Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, seen here with then US president Barack Obama, has stated that the goals of SpaceX revolve around his vision to change the world and humanity.  His goals include reducing global warming through sustainable energy production and consumption, and reducing the “risk of human extinction” by “making life multiplanetary” by establishing a human colony on Mars.