SBL Academy hosts Jodrell Bank Day

November 08 2016

AN exhibition opens this month in celebration of the astronomer Sir Bernard Lovell, who was born in Oldland Common.


AN exhibition opens this month in celebration of the astronomer Sir Bernard Lovell, who was born in Oldland Common.

A blue plaque commissioned by Bitton Parish Council for his birthplace in West Street will be unveiled on Saturday November 12, before the opening of the exhibition in St Anne’s Church Hall.

The exhibition will feature information about the scientist put together by children from schools in the parish, with the help of the education team from Jodrell Bank Observatory in Cheshire, where the radio telescope built by Sir Bernard is still in use today.

Children from five primary schools - Cherry Garden, The Meadows, Redfield Edge, St Anne’s and St Barnabas  - joined the students of Sir Bernard Lovell Academy for an inspirational day of activities with the team. They also had the chance to meet  Sir Bernard’s daughter Judy Spence.

Each of the schools has studied a specific area of Sir Bernard’s career, including his work  on aircraft radar in World War Two, his development of the Lovell Telescope in the 1950s, his contributions in the Cold War and his international space research, as well as his early years and his life and hobbies until his death in 2011 at the age of 98.

Arpana Vaid, science teacher at  the academy, said the project was a wonderful opportunity for students to learn how Sir Bernard helped discover more about the origins of the universe, and about his role in the early space race.

“It was a privilege to work with the Jodrell Bank team and to meet Sir Bernard’s daughter,”  said Ms Vaid, who has a masters degree in astrophysics. “The students are really excited to learn about mysterious radar echoes,  meteors and cosmic radiation.”

Students at SBL are also involved in the HiSparc project with the University of Bristol, in which they track cosmic rays using a detector on the school roof.

Charlotte Kington, 12, said: “We can monitor the cosmic rays using a laptop, which Sir Bernard Lovell could not do.”

Marley Toghill, 13, said: “I have learned lots of new things from the Jodrell Bank team.”

Judy Spence said her father would have been delighted to see that his work was continuing to inspire students and to know that he was being commemorated in his home village.

“I used to come here to visit my grandparents and I visited the school with Daddy. It is a lovely feeling coming back,” she said.

The exhibition in St Anne’s Church Hall in Barry Road will be open from 2-4pm on the Saturday and 11am to 4pm on Sunday November 13. It will then be on display at Sir Bernard Lovell Academy.