Leicester City Science Stars

Ever wondered what would happen when a group of football professionals, an astronaut in training and 30 children are in one room? Last week more than 30 primary school children explored what it would take to become an astronaut and learned how to build their own rockets with University of Leicester’s Suzie Imber and Leicester City Football Club Community Trust and the National Space Centre.

The event marked the launch of a new education programme, ‘City Science Stars’ which have been developed as part of the Premier League Primary Stars programme, led by LCFC Community Trust, aiming to target intervention. Premier League Primary Stars uses the appeal of the Premier League and professional football clubs to inspire children to learn, be active and develop important life skills.

The day was filled with fun tasks, resilience tests, and rocket launching and building, familiarising the children with the skills both footballers and astronauts use in their careers, with the day also being filmed for BBC Sport’s Match of the Day ‘Premier League in the Community’ feature.

Tasks the children took part in made them question and think about the skills footballers and astronaut’s share. One challenge required the children to navigate a football around cones with googles, turning their vision upside down.

Since winning BBC Two’s ‘Astronauts: Do You Have What It Takes?’ Suzie Imber, Associate Professor in Space Physics at the University has worked with over 20,000 school children across the country, with ‘City Science Stars’ the most recent collaboration she has been working on.

Dr Imber said: “The idea is to get them interested in Science and thinking about what they could do in their future at this age, when they’re still impressionable.

“We’ve tested them for skills they need to be an astronaut, but also to be a footballer; things like quick reactions, memory and whether they work well in a team. You need those skills in both professions.”

After reminding the children they were going to appear on TV and introducing Suzie to them, another surprise followed as LCFC legend Matt Elliott and Club Mascot Filbert the Fox joined, being greeted with cheers and applause.

Matt who played for Leicester City from 1997-2005, helped the children navigate between tasks.

Matt said: “It’s all about educating local young children about space, astronauts and the universe. The tests cover all angles of life, not just physical, not just intellectual, but also teamwork and just dealing with situations.”

To complete the day, the children gathered outside, counting down to see the rockets they had built launch into the sky whilst Match of the Day filmed Suzie activate them. It was an excelling end to the day, allowing the children to experience the achievements they had made from start to finish.

Education Manager for the Trust, Jamie Skinner, added: “Outside of the PE curriculum, Science is the next subject of which teachers require that additional support in terms of knowledge, understanding and practical ideas. So, we’re really meeting a need within Leicester to support schools in practical Science.”