Trip to Belgium
Posted On in News Added By : anthonyleavy

A group of 37 Second and Third year science students from Athboy Community School travelled to the Euro Space Centre in Transinne, Belgium over the mid-term break. The trip was organised by Science teacher Mr Liam McHugh who was accompanied by teachers Ms Louise Byrne, Ms Colette Kane and Mr Tony Magner.

The trip began on Thursday October 26th with a visit to the famous Atomium in Brussels, a huge reconstruction of an Atom. The students learned that it stands 102 metres tall and its nine 60 foot diameter stainless steel clad spheres are connected, so that the whole forms the shape of a unit cell of an iron crystal magnified 165 billion times.

Afterwards the group went to Adventure Valley in Durbuy near the border of Belgium and Luxembourg for an afternoon on the Acrobranche obstacle course and ziplining course high in the trees overseen by ex-Belgian paratroopers who instructed the students in the safety procedures and techniques involved in ziplining. It wasn’t long before the students and teachers mastered the 30 foot high wires which kept them well occupied up until it was time to unhook and face an evening all-you-could-eat barbeque provided at the centre. The trip continued on to the beautiful renaissance city of Leuven with its famously ornate Town Hall and Market Square and St. Pieter’s Cathedral where they enjoyed an evening and morning walking tour of the sights and colourful markets.

On the Friday the students travelled south to Transinne, to the Euro Space Centre itself, where an experienced team of scientists, physicists and atronomers took them for a variety of workshops and activities over a four hour period. The group were taken to the Planetarium to learn about the orbit of the earth, how to distinguish stars and planets, how solar energy and light reaches the earth and the elliptical plain on which all the planets lie. They were also shown this elliptical line in the sky and how and when to spot the planets as they rise in the night and morning sky. They were also shown all the major constellations in the night sky and the places in the solar system and beyond where life is most likely.

The students also had a 5D cinema experience that simulated the lift off of a lunar shuttle and its re-entry into the atmosphere. This was followed by an interactive lecture on the constellations around us and how the universe was created. Finally it was into the laboratory where students were taught how to make their own rockets using a motor, fuse, fuel, a mixture of paper and wood and its own deceleration parachute. The students learned all about Newton’s first, second, and third laws of motion. The rockets were electronically launched with a dramatic countdown the following morning over the space centre much to the delight of the students.

On the Saturday another 4 hour workshop included various activities. The students were put in a harness that simulated weightlessness and asked to mend a model satellite. The harness worked by replicating the students body weight with huge ballast tanks of water as a counterweight to allow them to essentially float in their harnesses up to the satellite above them to work on the circuit board.

A similar activity involved a 3D simulator of life on the moon. Again a harness calculated the students’ weight and counteracted it with ballast to simulate their weight on the moon with its weaker gravity. A headset displayed a 3D vista of the lunar landscape complete with lunar module and the students had to walk around as the astronauts do.

A couple of spinning chairs recreated the effect of severe G force on the astronauts as they launch and then orbit the earth in zero gravity. The students took great delight at being spun around in all directions in the 360 degree multi-access gyro-chair at high speeds and even more delight at the sight of the poor teachers struggling through the same spin! It was then down to the flight simulator in the main hall where a team of students in their respective groups following a script from NASA had to land their designated flight simulator.

Saturday afternoon and evening was spent in the Dutch city of Maastricht where the students enjoyed an Italian meal and a bit or retail therapy as well as taking in the sights of this picturesque historical town.

On their final day, Sunday, the students departed the Space Centre for the final time and headed back towards Brussels for a day spent in the Walibi Belgium Theme Park and WaterWorld full of thrill rides, rollercoasters and activities before travelling home to Athboy tired but happy after a great adventure.

The students who participated in the tour were as follows: Nathaniel Adesanmi, Sherll Bautista, Shane Bryan, Leah Castles, Mia Connolly, Sinead Daly, Aislinn Duggan, Lucy Fanning, Joshua Falk, Lauren Fay, Adam Fletcher, Mya Frazer-Luc, Cillian Heaney Robyn Heavey, Leo Hughes, Eoin Kane, Claire Kelleghan, Caitlin Kennedy, Jonathan Koceku, Danny Lawlor, Lorcan Lee, Matthew London, Rebekah Mc Carthy, Eva Melligan, Ryan Milnes, Luke Murtagh, Abby O’Neill, Sarah O’Sullivan, Joe Odare, Daniella Richards, Kate Smith, Lionel Swan, Aisling Thompson, Abbie Walsh, Erin Williams, Samuel Williams and Ciaran Winston.

The pupils would like to thank Mr McHugh for organising the trip, Mr Steven Keenan and all at ‘Saffron Travel’ and all the teachers for giving up their time to make the whole trip so memorable. Meanwhile the school are already planning next year’s trip for budding scientists to follow in the footsteps of this year’s crew to infinity and beyond.


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