On Thursday 20 June 2019 at exactly 1.48pm, Rowan Preparatory School in Claygate made history as one of a small number of schools in the country to make radio contact with the International Space Station. ARISS (The Amateur Radio on the International Space Station) arranged an exclusive 8-minute radio interview with the astronaut Nick Hague and the girls from Rowan.
A radio mast was built by ARISS in the playground and the girls had written questions for consideration. With a slight delay at the beginning Nick Hague answered questions from 10 girls of different ages. Six local schools, governors and Susan Buckle from the UK Space Agency attended to share the once-in-a-lifetime experience of being in contact with a real astronaut currently in space.
Following an extensive selection process, Rowan was chosen to host this momentous occasion. By encouraging the girls’ interest in STEM subjects in their early years, Rowan hopes to pave the way for them to enter the science, IT and space industries that so badly need female engineers, scientists and mathematicians. The new Engineering and Technology Room is in full use with the girls programming their own Lego kits, coding models to move and respond in different ways and printing objects designed using online software to the 3D printers.
One Year 6 girl said: “I most enjoyed the moment of suspense just before we spoke to the International Space Station then suddenly, Nick Hague responded over the crackling radio! It was a magical 10 minutes when our creative questions were answered. It was a once in a lifetime experience which we all loved.”
Mrs Susan Clarke, Rowan’s Headmistress said, “Speaking to Commander Nick Hague on board the International Space Station and working alongside the ARISS team, was quite simply one of the most inspirational opportunities that we could give our girls and children from the local community. In the moments before the connection was made, you could feel every heart beat in the hall, the atmosphere was electric. I hope that this moment highlights to all young children, that you must dream big and take risks in your learning to achieve your goals. You must work as a team, learn from each other and then celebrate together – all important life skills.”
Ciaran Morgan from ARISS said: “Another successful contact and the girls at Rowan did a fantastic job. Congratulations and well done. This is your moment in history.”
Susan Buckle, the Education & Outreach Manager from the UK Space Agency added: “This was such a fantastic moment for the girls at Rowan Preparatory that I’m sure they will remember for a long time. I hope this inspires them to continue studying STEM and pursue a career in the space sector!”