Just a short little story for you today, but it’s quite a sweet one. Earlier this week, four teddy bears have been sent to the very edge of space by a group of 11-, 12- and 13-year-olds, with the help of members of the Cambridge University Spaceflight student club.
The brave bears were lifted to just over 30 km above sea level with the aid of a helium-filled latex balloon. Each bear wore a different space suit, designed by the kids to determine which materials provide the best insulation against the -53 °C temperatures they would encounter during their mission.
The Daily Mail have a few quotes from the kids involved. Thia Unsworth, aged 12, said:
“It was unbelievable to see the balloon take off and it’s incredible to see the pictures of the teddy bears in space.
“I’ve always loved science before, but I now understand how it helps in the real world.”
It’s great to see kids involved with activities such as these, which allow them to see that science isn’t just sitting in the classroom and reading textbooks; it also involves getting out into the field and designing experiments. Their teacher, Steve Hinshelwood, seems to agree, as he told the Guardian:
“Suddenly scientific ideas such as insulation, convection, conduction and radiation became important. Thinking about weight made ideas of buoyancy, pressure and the composition of the atmosphere relevant,” he said.
“The need to get the teddies back gave the students a chance to think about computer control and radio communications.
“I don’t think that the students realised how much science they were learning – they were just having fun.”