April 28th 2023

Planets, rockets and Tim Peake selfies: Cadets visit the National Space Centre

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Cadets embarked on a journey through time and space last weekend as they took over the National Space Centre.

The space explorers travelled to the edge of the universe thanks to the centre’s ‘cinema-like’ planetarium dome, came face-to-face with astronauts, and explored the inside of a 42m-high rocket.

Organised and funded by East Midlands RFCA with the help of dozens of volunteers, the trip aimed to inspire Cadets and develop their awareness and understanding of careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM).

Rhiannon Brown, 15, of Newark Sea Cadets, said: “This trip has been really good. We went into the planetarium, which is like a massive cinema – you recline backwards and it takes you through space.

“You can go inside a rocket to see what it’s like. There are lots of switches, which you can flick – obviously, it doesn’t do anything, but it was fun to do.

“I did think about STEM careers before, but this trip has made me think about different options having seen all of these exhibits”

Rhiannon was one of some 300 Cadets from the three services who poured through the doors of the National Space Centre, in Leicester, for the special trip.

Fellow Cadet Saranne Goldenburgh, 16, of the Eckington detachment of Derbyshire Army Cadets, added: “There are loads of activities at the Space Centre, it’s very fun.

“Speaking with the STEM ambassadors and seeing all the things around here has broadened my view.”

Daniel Konzak, 14, was in agreement on the day’s activities broadening his horizon when it comes to careers. Daniel, of the same detachment, was also blown away by the centre’s rockets after seeing one first-hand for the first time.

The rockets were, understandably, one of the biggest attractions. A cardboard cut-out of British astronaut Tim Peake was another favourite, with many – including STEM ambassador Chief Tech Jason Old – stopping to take a selfie.

Jason is an Aircraft Engineer and Project Manager with the RAF. He is also a STEM ambassador and joined the trip to help the Cadets make connections between the exhibits, the space programme, and potential careers.

He said: “When you’re that young, you just want to do the most exciting bit. So if you want to be an astronaut, you don’t think about who built the space rocket to get that astronaut up there or who’s the mission controller. As a STEM ambassador, I try to show the younger generation what is actually available within the aircrew world.

“I was quite impressed that some are using the Cadets to get to where they want. For example, we bumped into three future pilots and had a great conversation about the University of Birmingham Air Squadron, which is a fast-track system for pilots.

“These Cadets understand technology change and are perfectly placed to help bring in the new transition as they love technology – their whole world is built around it.”

Flight Lieutenant Dan McGlynn, Wing Training Officer for South and East Midlands Air Cadets, played a key role alongside volunteers from the Sea Cadets and Army Cadet Force in organising the visit.

Dan said: “We are lucky East Midlands RFCA has put on this opportunity for us, it’s a great way to showcase STEM.

“I know it’s an up-and-coming topic, certainly for the Air Cadets. Air Space Cyber, our space progressive syllabus, is expanding. So when the email came through it was a no-brainer to take what they’ve learnt via online training and come and actually see some practical examples and apply their knowledge.”

East Midlands RFCA is putting plans in place for the next STEM day in 2024. A huge thank you to the volunteers and the National Space Centre for their support in making this first trip happen.