PUMP UP THE STEM video competition 2020 – run down of the winners

Yesterday we held the Awards Ceremony of our PUMP UP THE STEM video competition
Although we faced technical issues with Zoom, it was fantastic to have all celebrity judges in attendance
Below our CEO/founder, Amelia Jane Piper provides a run down of the winners


Thank you to our Super Guest Judges – Herb Baker, Dr Mark Lewney and Sue Nelson


PUMP UP THE STEM video competition 2020 – run down of the winners Read More » ‘Pump up the STEM’ Video Competition

If you are age 5-18 & have a passion for STEM…
Now is your chance to become a STEM communicator.

The ‘Pump up the STEM’ video competition is for budding scientists, naturalists, astronauts, engineers and mathematicians etc who want to share their excitement for STEM while gaining valuable presenting experience.

All you have to do is record a video which is up to 4 minutes long that shows your passion for STEM!

This could be in the form of your favourite experiment, fact, activity, a talk about your hero, a nature walk – the list is endless – Let your imagination go wild!

There are three age categories all with incredible prizes and special guest judges –

5-8 – Prize:

  • One Year Butterfly Conservation Family Membership (worth £46)
  • Three Field Studies Council Splash-proof fold-out guides – designed for the outdoors (worth approx. £10)

9-12 – Prize:

  • Six Month Subscription to Whizz Pop Bang Magazine (worth £25)
  • Investigation Box by LetterBox Lab (worth £25)
  • Six Brilliant Brainz Magazines (worth approx. £21.99)

13-18 – Prize:

  • Twenty Field Studies Council educational fold-out guides designed for the outdoors. Specifically created for Teenagers! (worth approx. £66).
  • £10 Space Store UK voucher – dedicated to bringing space to everyone, everywhere, every day.


There will also be a
Special Prize of a £40 BrightMinds Voucher for the Most Enthusiastic Presenter which will be judged out of all three categories – every entry will be considered for this prize.


Meet the Competition Super Guest Judges…

5-8 Category Judge – Herb Baker
Herb recently retired from NASA after 42 years at JSC, KSC & NASA Headquarters having worked in the Space Shuttle, Space Station & Orion program offices and managing the business office supporting Flight Operations.

He is currently on the Board of Directors for the JSC NASA Alumni League and volunteers at Space Center Houston.


9-12 Category Judge –
Sue Nelson
Sue is an award winning radio producer, science journalist and former BBC TV science/environment correspondent.
She is also the author of – Wally Funk’s Race for Space: The Extraordinary Story of a Female Aviation Pioneer.


13-18 Category Judge – Dr Mark Lewney
A Senior Patent Examiner with a PhD in Guitar Acoustics
Also know as the ‘Rock Doctor’, Mark was the first ever winner of the
FameLab Competition.
He is said to be a cross between Einstein and Jimi Hendrix!


Most Enthusiastic Presenter Prize Judge – Amelia Jane Piper
CEO/Founder/manager of
A public speaker, science communicator, photographer, Podcaster, coder, video editor and graphics designer.
She recently won the title of ‘UKSEDS Outreach Ambassador of the Year 2020’ in recognition of her voluntary non-profit work.


Hear from one of our super guest judges, Herb Baker (who recently retired from NASA after 42 years) – about why YOU should enter if you’re age 5-18!
What are you waiting for?…


Only one entry per person and entrants must be residents in the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland).

Videos MUST be 4 minutes or less.

The ‘Pump up the STEM’ video competition opens for entries on 31st July 2020 and closes midnight 3rd September 2020 (any entries received after this time will not be counted).
The judging will begin on 4th September 2020 and end on 11th September 2020.
The winners will be announced on 13th September 2020 during the ‘Pump up the STEM’ Live Online Awards Ceremony which starts at 4pm (BST) – the celebrity judges will be announcing the winners!
Further details will be emailed to all entrants regarding the awards ceremony closer to the time.


The competition has now closed.


Terms and Conditions

Eligibility: This competition is open to UK residents (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) aged 5 – 18.

Entries: Only one entry per person.  All additional entries will be disqualified.

There is no cash or alternative prizes, in whole or part.
The prizes are not transferable and cannot be resold.

Copyright: By entering the competition, each entrant grants the Promoter a world-wide, perpetual, royalty free, sub-licensable right and licence to use reproduce, modify, adapt, publish or display (in whole or in part) any intellectual property contained in the content of their entry, without royalty, payment or other compensation. Each Entrant agrees not to assert any moral rights in relation to such use and warrants that they have full authority to grant such rights.

Judges will not enter any conversation about judging and all decisions are final.

Any personal information that entrants share will be kept secure and only used in line with these terms and conditions.
By entering the promotion, entrants agree that their information may be used to administer the competition and winners consent to give their name for winners promotional material. ‘Pump up the STEM’ Video Competition Read More »

MajorTim space – 10 Minute Star Striking Facts Series – The Advert – 10 Minute Star Striking Facts series is an engaging online outreach project to inspire all.
On Monday each week, we will feature a different speaker with a fact of their choice.

Join us every Monday at 6pm as we spike your interest and curiosity in new areas of STEM/Space knowledge in a personal and relaxed setting – perfect for people of all ages!

Facebook –
Twitter – @majortimspace
YouTube –

MajorTim space – 10 Minute Star Striking Facts Series – The Advert Read More »

Historic NASA SpaceX Commercial Crew Launch – Attempt 2

Unfortunately due to weather conditions the historic NASA’s Commercial Crew Program – SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft which was meant to launch last Wednesday (27th May) was postponed until today (30th May).

As always for any manned spaceflight – crew safety is top priority.


A new era of human spaceflight is set to begin as American astronauts once again launch on an American rocket from American soil to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley will fly on SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft, lifting off on a Falcon 9 rocket, the first manned space flight to leave US since 2011, is set for blast off from Cape Canaveral, Florida – today at 8.22pm UK time (3.22pm Eastern Time)

NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission will return human spaceflight to the International Space Station from U.S. soil on an American rocket and spacecraft as a part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.  Demo-2 will be SpaceX’s final test flight to validate its crew transportation system, including the Crew Dragon, Falcon 9, launch pad and operations capabilities.  During the mission, the crew and SpaceX mission controllers will verify the performance of the spacecraft’s environmental control system, displays and control system, maneuvering thrusters, autonomous docking capability and more.


Who are the astronauts on this historic mission?

Robert Behnken

Robert will be the joint operations commander for the mission, responsible for activities such as rendezvous, docking and undocking, as well as Demo-2 activities while the spacecraft is docked to the space station.

He was selected as a NASA astronaut in 2000 and has completed two space shuttle flights.  Behnken flew STS-123 in March 2008 and STS-130 in February 2010, and he performed three spacewalks during each mission. Born in St. Anne, Missouri, he has bachelor’s degrees in physics and mechanical engineering from Washington University and earned a master’s and doctorate in mechanical engineering from California Institute of Technology.

Before joining NASA, Robert was a flight test engineer with the U.S. Air Force.

Douglas Hurley
Douglas will be the spacecraft commander for Demo-2, responsible for activities such as launch, landing and recovery.
He was selected as an astronaut in 2000 and has completed two spaceflights.  Hurley served as pilot and lead robotics operator for both STS‐127 in July 2009 and STS‐135, the final space shuttle mission, in July 2011.  The New York native was born in Endicott but considers Apalachin his hometown.  He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Tulane University in Louisiana and graduated from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School in Maryland.
Before joining NASA, he was a fighter pilot and test pilot in the U.S. Marine Corps.


Astronauts – Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley were strapped in the cabin of Crew Dragon Capsule ready for blast off when the launch from Florida was cancelled on Wednesday because of bad weather.

Lets explore the sleek SpaceX launch and entry suits –

The spacesuits that Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley in  the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule to launch to the International Space Station on the Demo-2 mission, look different than the ones you are used to seeing.
They appear sleeker than the Sokol launch and entry suits that astronauts wear for launch onboard the Soyuz capsule that has been carrying crews to the ISS for the last nine years.  They bear even less resemblance to the orange “pumpkin suits,” also known as Advanced Crew Escape System (ACES) suits, that Space Shuttle crews wore when riding the shuttle to orbit or the space station.

It should not be surprising that the suits, like many things related to Elon Musk’s SpaceX operation, intentionally look unlike anything that has gone before them.

Their helmets are 3D-printed & the gloves are touchscreen-sensitive.
The Starman suits are all in one piece & customised for the individual astronaut.
But they are just designed for use inside the SpaceX capsule Crew Dragon – they’re not suitable for use on spacewalks.

Launch and entry suits that astronauts wear at the start and finish of their missions provide added safety to the astronauts during the most dangerous phases of the flight, like when they travel through the Earth’s atmosphere, but they are not autonomous.
The suits rely on the life support and communications systems of the spacecraft to protect life in the event of a failure of the capsule’s primary life support systems. Traditionally these suits have been adaptations of pilots’ high-altitude suits that mostly serve the same purpose.

Robert and Douglas will join the Expedition 63 crew on the station to conduct important research, as well as support station operations and maintenance.
While docked to the station, the crew will run tests to ensure the Crew Dragon spacecraft is capable on future missions of remaining connected to the station for up to 210 days as a NASA requirement.
The specific duration for this mission will be determined after arrival based on the readiness of the next commercial crew launch.

Finally, the mission will conclude with the Crew Dragon undocking from the station, deorbiting and returning Behnken and Hurley to Earth with a safe splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean.

Upon conclusion of the mission, Crew Dragon will autonomously undock with the two astronauts on board, depart the space station and re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere.  Upon splashdown just off Florida’s Atlantic Coast, the crew will be picked up at sea by SpaceX’s Go Navigator recovery vessel and return to Cape Canaveral.

The Demo-2 mission will be the final major step before NASA’s Commercial Crew Program certifies Crew Dragon for operational, long-duration missions to the space station.  This certification and regular operation of Crew Dragon will enable NASA to continue the important research and technology investigations taking place onboard the station, which benefits people on Earth and lays the groundwork for future exploration of the Moon and Mars starting with the agency’s Artemis program, which will land the first woman and the next man on the lunar surface in 2024.

Historic NASA SpaceX Commercial Crew Launch – Attempt 2 Read More »’s 10 Minute Star Striking Facts – Week 7’s 10 Minute Star Striking Facts
Week 7
Speaker – Nick Howes (Lead Research and Development Specialist & Test Analyst – Space SI division – BMT Defence and Security.
Head of Aerolite Meteorites in UK/Europe).

The 10 Minute Star Striking Facts series is an engaging online outreach project to inspire all during the Covid-19 outbreak.
On Monday each week, we will feature a different speaker with a fact of their choice.

Join us every Monday at 1pm during this period as we spike your interest and curiosity in new areas of STEM/Space knowledge in a personal and relaxed setting – perfect for people of all ages!’s 10 Minute Star Striking Facts – Week 7 Read More »

Remembering’s Patron – The Renowned Pioneer Whose Work Expanded Our Horizons’s patron – Apollo 15 astronaut, Colonel Alfred Merrill Worden (Al) sadly passed away in his sleep on 18th March 2020, age 88.

Al Worden served as Command Module Pilot (CMP) on Apollo 15, the fourth manned lunar landing mission which was the first to visit and explore the Moon’s Hadley Rille and Apennine Mountains that are located on the South East edge of the Mare Imbrium (Sea of Rains) in 1971.

This mission was the first flight of the Lunar Roving Vehicle which astronauts used to explore the geology of the Hadley Rille/Apennine region. The LRV allowed Apollo 15, 16 and 17 astronauts to venture further from the Lunar Module than in previous missions.

Al’s companions on the flight were David R. Scott, spacecraft commander and James B. Irwin, lunar module commander

One of only 24 people to have flown to the Moon – Colonel Al Worden earned a Master of Science degree in astronautical/aeronautical engineering and instrumentation engineering from the University of Michigan in 1963 – Later in 1971 the university awarded him an honoury doctorate of science in astronautical engineering.

Al was a man of many talents also known as an influential author and poet.


NASA Experience –

One of the 19 astronauts selected by NASA in April 1966, Al served as a member of the astronaut support crew for the Apollo 9 flight and as backup Command Module Pilot for the Apollo 12 flight.


The Apollo 15 patch design is of three birds flying over the lunar surface, each one indicating each astronaut who was on the flight. The lunar surface behind the patch shows the landing site (next to Hadley Rille at the foot of the Appenine Mountains) and directly behind the birds is a crater formation that spells “15” in Roman numerals – XV. You can also see from the birds that they fly in formation with one on top indicating who stayed in lunar orbit (Al Worden) and two closer to the lunar surface, representing the astronauts who landed on the Moon’s surface (David Scott and James Irwin).

During the Apollo 15 mission, Al Worden set two Guiness World Records –

1 – The most isolated that any human has been from another person – completed while orbiting the Moon while his crewmates David Scott and James Irwin roamed the lunar surface (Al Worden didn’t land on the Moon’s surface and stayed in orbit around the Moon).

2 – The first spacewalk in deep space – completed en route home and still more than 196,000 miles from Earth – the aim was to retrieve film cassettes from cameras in the scientific instrument module on the spacecraft.

Total EVA time was 38 minutes, 12 seconds.

A spacewalk is also known as an Extravehicular activity (EVA).


Apollo 15 Key Dates:

Launch Saturn V 26th July 1971

Lunar Landing – 30th July 1971 Hadley Apennine

Lunar Lift off – 2nd August 1971

Al Worden Performs First Spacewalk – 5th August 1971

Splashdown – 7th August 1971 in Pacific Ocean

Total Mission Duration: 12 days, 7 hours, 12 minutes

In more recent years Al Worden became the patron of –

“The most important thing we can leave for our descendants is a love of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). These are the tools that will enable us to survive in today’s world and help us find a safe place in the future in which to prosper. I encourage all young people to focus on these disciplines to become part of the solution rather than the problem. It is our future that you hold in your hands and is a good source of information!” Al Worden

Al Worden was a geniuine, kind person with an infectious sense of humour – a true Apollo legend.

He will be extremely missed by all.

“Do you know what they did down on the Moon? What those guys’ primary job was? They picked up rocks and dirt. Now, myself, in lunar orbit…” – Al Worden, Apollo 15 CMP


Remembering’s Patron – The Renowned Pioneer Whose Work Expanded Our Horizons Read More »

International Women’s Day 2020

Encouraging women into science

According to the Women in Science and Engineering (Wise) campaign’s latest analysis of UK labour market statistics, women make up just 23% of those in core science, technology, engineering or maths (STEM) jobs.

Plus, there are still considerably more boys studying science than girls – the latest Higher Education and Skills Agency (HESA) statistics showed that only 25% of graduates from UK universities with degrees in science are women.

This International Women’s Day – we are highlighting the incredible achievements of some of the most influential and inspiring women in STEM….


Helen Sharman-The first UK astronaut & first woman to visit the Mir Space Station!

Helen Sharman!
Source – RocketSTEM

Helen Patricia Sharman is a British Chemist who became the first British astronaut and the first woman to visit the Mir Space Station in 1991!
Sharman was born in Grenoside, Sheffield on the 30th May 1963.

Project Juno

After responding to a radio advertisement asking for applicants to be astronauts for a mission to the Mir Space Station, Helen Sharman was selected for the mission live on ITV, on 25th of November 1989, ahead of nearly 13,000  other applicants.
Before launch, Sharman spent 18 months in intensive flight training in Star City.


Katherine Johnson – Calculated the trajectory of the 1961 flight of Alan Shepard, the first American in space!  (1918 – 2020)

Katherine Johnson!
Source – NASA

Katherine Johnson was a former NASA mathematician.  Born on August 26, 1918 in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, Johnson began her career in 1953 at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), the agency that preceded NASA, one of a number of African-American women hired to work as “computers” in what was then their Guidance and Navigation Department.


Working at NASA Langley Research Center  from 1953 until her retirement in 1986, Johnson made critical technical contributions which included, calculating the trajectory of the 1961 flight of Alan Shepard, the first American in space.

She also played a crucial role in verifying the calculations made by early electronic computers of John Glenn’s 1962 launch to orbit and the 1969 Apollo 11 trajectory to the moon.
Johnson worked on the Space Shuttle Program and the Earth Resources Satellite and encouraged students to pursue careers in STEM (science, technology engineering and mathematics).


Mary Jackson – NASA’S First Black Female Engineer!  (1921 – 2005)

Mary Jackson at Work at NASA Langley!
Source – NASA

After two years in the computing pool, Mary Jackson received an offer to work for engineer Kazimierz Czarnecki in the 4-foot by 4-foot Supersonic Pressure Tunnel, a 60,000 horsepower wind tunnel capable of blasting models with winds approaching twice the speed of sound.  Czarnecki offered Mary hands-on experience conducting experiments in the facility, and eventually suggested that she enter a training program that would allow her to earn a promotion from mathematician to engineer. Trainees had to take graduate level math and physics in after-work courses managed by the University of Virginia.  Because the classes were held at then-segregated Hampton High School, however, Mary needed special permission from the City of Hampton to join her white peers in the classroom.  Never one to flinch in the face of a challenge, Mary completed the courses, earned the promotion, and in 1958 became NASA’s first black female engineer.  That same year, she co-authored her first report, Effects of Nose Angle and Mach Number on Transition on Cones at Supersonic Speeds.

Mary Jackson began her engineering career in an era in which female engineers of any background were a rarity; in the 1950s, she very well may have been the only black female aeronautical engineer in the field.


Dorothy Vaughan – NASA’s first African-American manager!  (1910 – 2008)

Dorothy Vaughan
Source – NASA

It’s easy to overlook the people who paved the way for the agency’s current robust and diverse workforce and leadership.  Those who speak of NASA’s pioneers rarely mention the name Dorothy Vaughan, but as the head of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA’s) segregated West Area Computing Unit from 1949 until 1958, Vaughan was both a respected mathematician and NASA’s first African-American manager.

Dorothy Vaughan came to the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory in 1943, during the height of World War II, leaving her position as the math teacher at Robert Russa Moton High School in Farmville, VA to take what she believed would be a temporary war job.  Two years after President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 8802 into law, prohibiting racial, religious and ethnic discrimination in the country’s defence  industry, the Laboratory began hiring black women to meet the skyrocketing demand for processing aeronautical research data.  Urgency and twenty-four hour shifts prevailed – as did Jim Crow laws which required newly-hired “coloured” mathematicians to work separately from their white female counterparts. Dorothy Vaughan was assigned to the segregated “West Area Computing” unit, an all-black group of female mathematicians, who were originally required to use separate dining and bathroom facilities.  Over time, both individually and as a group, the West Computers distinguished themselves with contributions to virtually every area of research at Langley.


Libby Jackson – The Human Spaceflight and Microgravity Programme Manager for the UK Space Agency!

Libby Jackson!

Libby Jackson is currently the Human Spaceflight and Microgravity Programme Manager for the UK Space Agency, so she is responsible for the UK’s Human Spaceflight and Microgravity programmes on the International Space Station (ISS).

She used to be a flight director on space missions, ensuring that everyone worked together and everything went according to plan.

Libby attended space school when she was 15, and that made her realise there was a space industry you could work in.  Then in Year 12,  she had to do a work placement and herself and a friend wrote to NASA – They never expected to get in, but to there amazement they were invited to do two weeks at the Johnson Space Center!

Libby has published a wonderful book –
A Galaxy of Her Own: Amazing Stories of Women in Space
From small steps to giant leaps, A Galaxy of Her Own tells fifty stories of inspirational women who have been fundamental to the story of humans in space, from scientists to astronauts to some surprising roles in between.


Valentina Tereshkova – First Woman in Space!

Valentina Tereshkova before her mission!
Source – Roscosmos


Interested in parachuting from a young age, Tereshkova began skydiving at a local flying club, making her first jump at the age of 22 in May 1959.  At the time of her selection as a cosmonaut, she was working as a textile worker in a local factory.

After the first human spaceflight by Yuri Gagarin, the selection of female cosmonaut trainees was authorised by the Soviet government, with the aim of ensuring the first woman in space was a Soviet citizen.

On 16 February 1962, out of more than 400 applicants, five women were selected to join the cosmonaut corps: Tatyana Kuznetsova, Irina Solovyova, Zhanna Yorkina, Valentina Ponomaryova and Valentina Tereshkova. The group spent several months in training, which included weightless flights, isolation tests, centrifuge tests, 120 parachute jumps and pilot training in jet aircraft.

Four candidates passed the final examinations in November 1962, after which they were commissioned as lieutenants in the Soviet air force (meaning Tereshkova also became the first civilian to fly in space, since technically these were only honorary ranks).

Originally a joint mission was planned that would see two women launched on solo Vostok flights on consecutive days in March or April 1963.  Tereshkova, Solovyova and Ponomaryova were the leading candidates.  It was intended that Tereshkova would be launched first in Vostok 5, with Ponomaryova following her in Vostok 6.

However, this plan was changed in March 1963: Vostok 5 would carry a male cosmonaut, Valeri Bykovsky, flying the mission with a woman in Vostok 6 in June. The Russian space authorities nominated Tereshkova to make the joint flight.

Valentina Tereshkova remains the only woman ever to have flown a solo space mission.

Her daughter Elena, was the first child born to parents who had both been in space.


Sally Ride – First American Female Astronaut!  (1951 – 2012)

Sally Ride poses on the Aft Flight Deck with her back to the on orbit station!
Source – NASA

One of six women selected in NASA’s 1978 astronaut class, Sally Ride was the first of them to fly.   When she rode aboard the space shuttle Challenger as it lifted off from Kennedy Space Center on June 18, 1983, she became the first American woman in space and captured the nation’s attention and imagination as a symbol of the ability of women to break barriers.  As one of the three mission specialists on the STS-7 mission, she played a vital role in helping the crew deploy communications satellites, conduct experiments and make use of the first Shuttle Pallet Satellite.  Her pioneering voyage and remarkable life helped, as President Barack Obama said soon after her death last summer, “inspire generations of young girls to reach for the stars” for she “showed us that there are no limits to what we can achieve.”

Fascinated by science from a young age, she pursued the study of physics, along with English, in school.
As she was graduating from Stanford University with a Ph.D. in physics, having done research in astrophysics and free electron laser physics, Ride noticed a newspaper ad for NASA astronauts.  She turned in an application, along with 8,000 other people, and was one of only 35 chosen to join the astronaut corps.  Joining NASA in 1978, she served as the ground-based capsule communicator, or capcom, for the second and third space shuttle missions (STS- 2 and STS-3) and helped with development of the space shuttle’s robotic arm.

Retiring from NASA in 1987, she became a science fellow at the Center for International Security and Arms Control at Stanford University and, in 1989, joined the University of California-San Diego as a professor of physics and director of the California Space Institute. In 2001, she founded her own company, Sally Ride Science, to pursue her passion for motivating girls and boys to study the STEM fields-science, technology, engineering and math.  The company creates innovative classroom materials, programs and professional development training for teachers.
In 2003 she also served on the presidential commission investigating the Columbia accident (the only person to serve on both commissions).
In addition to this work, she wrote a number of science books for children, including The Third Planet, which won the American Institute of Physics Children’s Science Writing Award in 1995.

In 2003, Ride was added to the Astronaut Hall of Fame.   The Astronaut Hall of Fame honours astronauts for their hard work.


Roma Agrawal – A structural engineer on The Shard!

Roma Agrawal!
Source – IET

A structural engineer with a physics degree.   She has always loved science and design and found engineering to be a great combination between the two.

She has designed bridges, skyscrapers and sculptures with signature architects over her  ten year career.  She spent six years working on The Shard, the tallest building in Western Europe, and designed the foundations and the ‘Spire’.

In addition to winning industry awards, her career has been extensively featured in the media, including on BBC World News, BBC Daily Politics, TEDx, The Evening Standard, The Sunday Times, Guardian, The Telegraph, Independent, Cosmopolitan and Stylist Magazines, documentaries and in online blogs.  She was the only woman featured on Channel 4’s documentary on the Shard, ‘The Tallest Tower’.   Roma was part of M&S’s ‘Leading Ladies’ campaign 2014 and was described as a top woman tweeter by the Guardian

Outside work, Roma promotes engineering, scientific and technical careers to young people and particularly to under-represented groups such as women.   She also engages about these topics with the Institutions and government to understand and develop an effective way forward.    Roma has spoken to over 3000 people at over 50 schools, universities and organisations across the country and organisations across the country and abroad!

Roma has recently released a book –
Built: The Hidden Stories Behind our Structures
A unique look at how construction has evolved from the mud huts of our ancestors to towers of steel that reach into the sky.


Ada Lovelace – The first ever computer programmer!  (1815 – 1852)

Ada Lovelace!
Source –

The idea that the 1840s saw the birth of computer science as we know it today may seem like a preposterous one, but long before the Bombe, the Colossus or the Harvard Mark I – long before any computer was actually built – came a remarkable woman whose understanding of computing remained unparalleled and unappreciated for 100 years.  Brought up in an era when women were routinely denied education, she saw further into the future than any of her male counterparts, and her work influenced the thinking of one of World War II’s greatest minds.

Fearing that Ada would inherit her father’s volatile ‘poetic’ temperament, her mother raised her under a strict regimen of science, logic, and mathematics.
Ada herself from childhood had a fascination with machines – designing fanciful boats and steam flying machines, and poring over the diagrams of the new inventions of the Industrial Revolution that filled the scientific magazines of the time.

in 1833, Lovelace’s mentor, the scientist and polymath Mary Sommerville, introduced her to Charles Babbage, the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics who had already attained considerable celebrity for his visionary and perpetually unfinished plans for gigantic clockwork calculating machines.  Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace both had somewhat unconventional personalities and became close and lifelong friends. Babbage described her as “that Enchantress who has thrown her magical spell around the most abstract of Sciences and has grasped it with a force which few masculine intellects could have exerted over it,” or an another occasion, as “The Enchantress of Numbers”.

In 1842 Lovelace translated a short article describing the Analytical Engine by the italian mathematician Luigi Menabrea, for publication in England.  Babbage asked her to expand the article, “as she understood the machine so well”.   The final article is over three times the length of the original and contains several early ‘computer programs,’ as well as strikingly prescient observations on the potential uses of the machine, including the manipulation of symbols and creation of music.
Although Babbage and his assistants had sketched out programs for his engine before, Lovelace’s are the most elaborate and complete, and the first to be published; so she is often referred to as “the first computer programmer”.
Babbage himself “spoke highly of her mathematical powers, and of her peculiar capability – higher he said than of any one he knew, to prepare the descriptions connected with his calculating machine.”


Maria Mitchell – The First Female Professional American Astronomer!
(1818 – 1889)

Maria Mitchell!
Source – Big Think Youtube

Maria Mitchell was an astronomer, librarian, naturalist, and above all an educator. She discovered a comet through a telescope, for which she was awarded a gold medal by the King of Denmark.  She was then thrust into the international spotlight and became America’s first professional female astronomer.

Her father was a great influence on her life; Maria developed her love of astronomy from his instruction on surveying and navigation.   At age 12, Maria helped her father calculate the position of their home by observing a solar eclipse.  By 14, sailors trusted her to do vital navigational computations for their long whaling journeys. Maria pursued her love of learning as a young woman, becoming the Nantucket Atheneum’s first librarian.
She and her father continued to acquire astronomical equipment and conduct observations.

On October 1st, 1847, Maria was sweeping the sky from the roof of the Pacific National Bank on Main Street, where her father was the Cashier.  She spotted a small blurry object that did not appear on her charts.  She had discovered a comet!
After achieving her fame, Maria was widely sought after and went on to achieve many great things.  She resigned her post at the Atheneum in 1856 to travel throughout the US and Europe.  In 1865, she became Professor of Astronomy at the newly-founded Vassar College.

Maria was an inspiration to her students. It was Vassar College that Maria felt was truly her home.  She believed in learning by doing, and in the capacity of women to achieve what their male counterparts could.  “Miss Mitchell” was beloved by her students whom she taught until her retirement in 1888.


Dr Tamsin Edwards – Climate Scientist and Lecturer at King’s College London!

Dr Tamsin Edwards!
Source – @flimsin Twitter

Tamsin Edwards is a Climate Scientist and Lecturer at King’s College London!

As a Climate Scientist, she specialises in testing and assessing uncertainties for climate models, especially for the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheet contributions to future sea level rise.

Tamsin started her scientific career as a particle physicist before moving into climate science in 2006.

Her primary research focus lies in quantifying uncertainty in predictions from earth system models, including climate, cryosphere and vegetation – both in the interests of understanding past changes and predicting the range of possible futures.

Tamsin is also a popular science communicator and definitely an amazing role model for girls!


Sue Nelson – An award winning radio producer, science journalist and former BBC TV science and environment correspondent

Sue is an award winning radio producer, science journalist and former BBC TV science and environment correspondent.

She has reported on science for all the BBC’s national television and radio news programmes. She has presented numerous Radio 4 programmes, was editor of The Biologist (2010-15) and produces documentaries for BBC radio. She also co-produces/presents the Space Boffins podcast.

Sue is a published playwright, has written for a TV game show, most of the UK’s newspapers and has had several screenplays made into short films.

Sue has published a fantastic book –
Wally Funk’s Race for Space: The Extraordinary Story of a Female Aviation Pioneer.

Sue is determined to inspire more girls to develop a love for space.

International Women’s Day 2020 Read More »

World Book Day 2020

Happy World Book Day

To celebrate we are sharing Ten Top Space/STEM books –


In no particular order –

1 . Falling to Earth: An Apollo 15 Astronaut’s Journey to Earth – By Al Worden and Francis French

As command module pilot for the Apollo 15 mission to the moon in 1971, Al Worden flew on what is widely regarded as the greatest exploration mission that humans have ever attempted  He spent six days orbiting the moon, including three days completely alone, the most isolated human in existence.  During the return from the moon to earth he also conducted the first spacewalk in deep space, becoming the first human ever to see both the entire earth and moon simply by turning his head. The Apollo 15 flight capped an already impressive career as an astronaut, including important work on the pioneering Apollo 9 and Apollo 12 missions, as well as the perilous flight of Apollo 13.

Al Worden is our fantastic patron and a lovely person with a wonderful sense of humour – this book is an inspirational read for all!
When Al tells a story he makes you feel like you experienced it with him – inspiring the next generation to reach for the stars…


2.  Built: The Hidden Stories Behind our Structures – By Roma Agrawal

In BUILT, structural engineer Roma Agrawal takes a unique look at how construction has evolved from the mud huts of our ancestors to skyscrapers of steel that reach hundreds of metres into the sky.  She unearths how engineers have tunnelled through kilometres of solid mountains – how they’ve bridged across the widest and deepest of rivers, and tamed Nature’s precious and elusive water resources.  She tells vivid tales of the visionaries who created the groundbreaking materials in the Pantheon’s record holding concrete dome and the frame of the record-breaking Eiffel Tower.  Through the lens of an engineer, Roma examines tragedies like the collapse of the Quebec Bridge, highlighting the precarious task of ensuring people’s safety they hold at every step.

Roma’s passion for engineering is most certainly clear in BUILT!


3.  Ad Astra: An Illustrated Guide to Leaving the Planet – By Dallas Campbell

Whether you’ve got itchy feet and need a bit of a break, or you’re looking for a complete change of scene – this book has all the information you’ll need to leave, with FREE expert advice from the men and woman who can actually make it happen!
It covers the wonders that we can all feel about science, and more specifically space exploration, even if you’re not a professional scientist.
It’s fascinating, witty and imaginative!

If you’ve ever looked up into the skies or dreamed about leaving the planet – this book is definitely for you!

Dallas has a fantastic presenting style and his passion for STEM makes this book a compelling must-read!


4.  A Galaxy of Her Own: Amazing Stories of Women in Space – By Libby Jackson
From small steps to giant leaps, A Galaxy of Her Own tells fifty stories of inspirational women who have been fundamental to the story of humans in space, from scientists to astronauts to some surprising roles in between.
Packed full of both amazing female role models and mind-blowing secrets of space travel, A Galaxy of Her Own is guaranteed to make any reader reach for the stars!

Written by Libby Jackson, a leading UK expert in human space flight – this is a book to delight and inspire people of all ages.

Libby is an inspirational speaker and author – a truly lovely person to know!



5.  Endurance: A Year in Space, a Lifetime of Discovery – By Scott Kelly

A stunning, personal memoir from the NASA astronaut and modern-day hero who spent a record-breaking year aboard the International Space Station – a book that will inspire generations to come.

Scott gives a personal account of his year in space, from his training, to adjusting back to life on Earth!
A deeply absorbing and vivid look at a year in space, showing the importance of long duration space missions – that will help us explore further into the cosmos!
A truly inspirational book by an incredible, delightful and witty astronaut!



6.  Wally Funk’s Race for Space: The Extraordinary Story of a Female Aviation Pioneer – By Sue Nelson

In 1961, Wally Funk was among the Mercury 13, the first group of American pilots to pass the Woman in Space programme.  Wally sailed through a series of rigorous physical and mental tests, with one of her scores beating all the male Mercury 7 astronauts,  including John Glenn,  the first American in orbit.

But just one week before the final phase of training, the programme was abruptly cancelled.  A combination of politics and prejudice meant that none of the women ever flew into space.  Undeterred, Wally went on to become America’s first female aviation safety inspector, though her dream of being an astronaut never dimmed.

Sue is determined to inspire more girls to develop a love for space – Wally’s story is an inspiration for all!


7.  The Crowd and the Cosmos: Adventures in the Zooniverse – by Chris Lintott


The world of science has been transformed.  Where once astronomers sat at the controls of giant telescopes in remote locations, praying for clear skies – now they have no need to budge from their desks as data arrives in their inbox -what they receive is overwhelming; projects now being built provide more data in a few nights than in the whole of humanity’s history of observing the Universe.  It’s not just astronomy either – dealing with this deluge of data is the major challenge for scientists at CERN and for biologists who use automated cameras to spy on animals in their natural habitats.  Artificial intelligence is one part of the solution – but will it spell the end of human involvement in scientific discovery?

No, argues Chris Lintott. We humans still have unique capabilities to bring to bear – our curiosity, our capacity for wonder and most importantly – our capacity for surprise.  It seems that humans and computers working together do better than computers can on their own.  But with so much scientific data, you need a lot of scientists – a crowd, in fact.  Chris found such a crowd in the Zooniverse, the web-based project that allows hundreds of thousands of enthusiastic volunteers to contribute to science.

In this book, Chris describes the exciting discoveries that people all over the world have made, from galaxies to pulsars, exoplanets to moons and from penguin behaviour to old ship’s logs.  This approach builds on a long history of so-called ‘citizen science’, given new power by fast internet and distributed data.  Discovery is no longer the remit only of scientists in specialist labs or academics in ivory towers. It’s something we can all take part in.  As Chris shows, it’s a wonderful way to engage with science, yielding new insights daily.

You, too, can help explore the Universe in your lunch hour.

Chris Lintott’s Passion for astronomy and witty humour makes this book and enjoyable and captivating read for anyone whether an expert or amateur – you will most certainly enjoy this superbly written insight into the unique and powerful contribution everyone can make to scientific knowledge.


8.  Aliens: Science Asks: Is There Anyone Out There?: Science from the Other Side – Professor Jim Al-Khalili

Do Aliens Exist?


And if they do – what would they look like? Where would they live? Would they be conscious beings?  And what would happen if they found us?


These are the biggest questions we’ve ever asked – and here, Professor Jim Al-Khalili, theoretical physicist and host of BBC Radio Four’s The Life Scientific, blasts off in search of answers.  Coming with him are Martin Rees, Ian Stewart, Louisa Preston, Monica Grady, Sara Seager, Paul Davies and a crack team of scientists and experts who’ve made it their life’s work to discover the truth.

So get ready to visit the ice boulders and hydrocarbon lakes of Saturn’s moon Titan, meet the tiny eight-legged critters that could survive in space and learn about the neuroscience behind belief in alien abductions.

Lively, curious and filled with scientific insights fresh from the cutting edge of the Galaxy.


9.  Hello World: How to be Human in the Age of the Machine – By Hannah Fry

You are accused of a crime. Who would you rather determined your fate – a human or an algorithm?
An algorithm is more consistent and less prone to error of judgement – yet a human can look you in the eye before passing sentence.

Welcome to the age of the algorithm, the story of a not too distant future where machines rule supreme, making important decisions in healthcare, transport, finance, security, what we watch, where we go even who we send to prison.  So how much should we rely on them?  What kind of future do we want?

Hannah Fry takes us on a tour of the good, the bad and the downright ugly of the algorithms that surround us.  In Hello World she lifts the lid on their inner workings, demonstrates their power, exposes their limitations, and examines whether they really are an improvement on the humans they are replacing.

This book is fantastic – you must read it!


10.  Quantum: A Guide For The Perplexed – By Jim Al-Khalili

From Schrodinger’s cat to Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, this book untangles the weirdness of the quantum world.

Quantum mechanics underpins modern science and provides us with a blueprint for reality itself and yet it has been said that if you’re not shocked by it, you don’t understand it.  But is quantum physics really so unknowable?  Is reality really so strange?

Our journey into the quantum begins with nature’s own conjuring trick, in which we discover that atoms – contrary to the rules of everyday experience – can exist in two locations at once.  To understand this we travel back to the dawn of the twentieth century and witness the birth of quantum theory, which over the next one hundred years was to overthrow so many of our deeply held notions about the nature of our universe.  Scientists and philosophers have been left grappling with its implications every since.

We recommend this book to anyone who is seeking an introduction to quantum mechanics!

World Book Day 2020 Read More »’s ‘Galactic Outreach Workshops’ at World Museum Liverpool’s Stargazing Night – 7th February 2020!

In a unique collaboration with the World Museum Liverpool we were proud to run our drop-in ‘Binary Talks’ workshops and a Galactic Quiz with prizes at World Museum Liverpool’s Stargazing Night – 7th February 2020.

We were commemorating two very significant 7th February occasions – the first was our patron Apollo 15 astronaut, Al Worden’s 88th birthday and the second was National Periodic Table Day.

During our ‘Binary Talks’ workshop visitors learnt how to use the binary coding system whilst creating a keyring.
They had the chance to “code” their own initial using green and red beads following the binary code.

Our Galactic Quiz with prizes was very popular…

We also took our Galactic Photo Prop which is always very popular with the visitors.
More photos of visitors with the photo accessory at the end of the article.

The lucky winner of our raffle was…..  Adam Hough (age 11)!

The prize was a signed photo of astronaut Don Thomas – plus, the chance to record a vlog of his next Space/STEM adventure for our blog – watch this space…

Adam was thrilled with his prize (below).

We were also extremely happy to announce that the second part of’s Polymath Cerebration Podcast episode 3 was recorded on stage with Dr Jackie Bell – following on from the Q&A with Jackie at World Museum’s Stargazing event in November 2019.

During the event we met Edward (age 8), a future scientist who wanted to wish our patron Apollo 15 astronaut, Al Worden a Happy Birthday…

All of the visitors to our stand had STEMtastic time!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.’s ‘Galactic Outreach Workshops’ at World Museum Liverpool’s Stargazing Night – 7th February 2020! Read More »’s ‘Galactic Outreach Workshops’ at Techniquest Glyndwr’s Astronomy Club – 1st February 2020!

We had a fantastic time running our drop-in ‘Magical Illusions’ workshops at Techniquest Glyndwr’s Astronomy Club – 1st February 2020.

Visitors to our stand made phenomenal STEM Spinning Tops – while learning the science behind them.

Visitors also had a blast learning about ESA’s Rosetta Spacecraft Legacy while make models of Rosetta and Philae in our ‘Explore Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko with Rosetta’ workshops.

We also took our Galactic Photo Prop which is always very popular with the visitors.
More photos of visitors with the photo accessory at the end of the article.

The lucky winner of our raffle was….  Gareth!

During the event we met Oliver – a future astronaut who wants to be the first person on Mars.
After making a model of the Rosetta Spacecraft and learning about ESA’s historic mission during our workshops – he wanted to say hello to his new heroes – Mark McCaughrean (Senior Advisor for Science & Exploration at the European Space Agency) and Dr Matt Taylor (Rosetta Mission Project Scientist) – so he recorded a video for our social media pages.
When we posted the video both Mark and Matt replied with congratulations for the young space explorer – Oliver was absolutely thrilled!


All who visited our stand had a STEMtastic time and we can’t wait for the last TQG Astronomy Club of the season – 7th March 2020!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.’s ‘Galactic Outreach Workshops’ at Techniquest Glyndwr’s Astronomy Club – 1st February 2020! Read More »