Sunderland’s Thornhill Academy gives pupils the chance to travel through space

The International Space Station as seen in the planetarium at Thornhill Academy
The International Space Station as seen in the planetarium at Thornhill Academy
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Sunderland school children are reaching for the stars to mark British Science Week.

As part of the week, Thornhill Academy has teamed up with experts from Kielder Observatory in Northumberland to host a giant planetarium.

The Planetarium at Thornhill Academy, Sunderland, with the help of The Kielder Observatory. Looking at samples of meteorites are l-r James Arthur Scott, Leona Dannielle and Demi Leigh Ross

The Planetarium at Thornhill Academy, Sunderland, with the help of The Kielder Observatory. Looking at samples of meteorites are l-r James Arthur Scott, Leona Dannielle and Demi Leigh Ross

Pupils are able to step inside the inflatable dome to enjoy a light show which gives them a whirlwind tour of our universe.

Youngsters from primary schools, Richard Avenue, Diamond Hall, Hudson Road, Broadway Juniors and Barnes, as well as members of the surrounding community, are also visiting Thornhill this week for the unique insight into the night skies.

Demi-Leigh Ross, 10, Leona Dannielle, 10, and James Arthur Scott, 9, all from Diamond Hall Junior Academy, are among those who’ve been enjoying the star-gazing spectacle so far.

“I really enjoyed it, it felt like we were in a spaceship. It was really magical learning about the planets,” said Demi-Leigh.

Inside the planetarium at Thornhill Academy

Inside the planetarium at Thornhill Academy

Leona said: “It was really cool, I’ve never seen anything like that before.”

James said: “I never realised there were that many planets in our solar system. I learnt how hot the planets were, it was really interesting.”

As well as the planetarium, the children are taking part in Q&A sessions, exploring items through microscopes and taking part in practical projects relating to gravity as part of the week of activities.

Ian Redford, headteacher at Thornhill Academy, said: “British Science Week started last Friday and is running until this Friday. Kielder Observatory had contacted us to say they are expanding their education programme and to see if we would like to work with them.

Observing the planets

Observing the planets

“That planted the seed for this week of activity. It’s giving our pupils, as well as those from the primary schools, a fascinating insight into the solar system and the make up of our universe, as well as how that can be applied to every day life.

“It’s taking science out of the classroom and is being delivered by the team from Kielder Observatory who are extremely knowledgeable. The pupils have been really engaged and we’ve been getting great feedback from them already.”

•As part of the Thornhill Academy project we’ll be going live from the school at 1.45pm tomorrow on our Facebook page to give readers the chance to enjoy this insight into the solar system.