Space professor opens Biggleswade school’s out-of-this-world science centre

PUBLISHED: 18:17 08 October 2017 | UPDATED: 04:40 09 October 2017

The new science centre at Stratton Upper School. Picture Stratton Upper School.

The new science centre at Stratton Upper School. Picture Stratton Upper School.

Archant

Professor Monica Grady was the guest of honour at a special day of celebrations at Stratton Upper School in Biggleswade to mark the formal opening of its new £8 million science centre.

Professor Grady oepning the new science centre. Picture: Stratton Upper School. Professor Grady oepning the new science centre. Picture: Stratton Upper School.

The new state-of-the-art facility contains 13 fully equipped laboratories and will eventually help an extra 400 pupils to attend the school.

Completed by builders ISG, the centre took more than a year to complete.

Perhaps best known through her involvement with the Rosetta space probe, the first satellite to be successfully landed on a comet, Professor Grady talked about the importance of the project and the team of scientists from all disciplines that made it happen.

Headteacher Rob Watson said: “It was a fabulous occasion – Professor Grady was so generous with her time. She spent the whole day with us, talking to students about her work and passion for space and space exploration.”

Science head Peter Riley added: “My background is in physics. Her work at the forefront of our understanding of asteroids and meteorites is well-known – but her effortless communication with students across our age range was fantastic.”

For many students, the highlight was watching her create a comet in the laboratory.

Stratton science technician Andrew Peacock said: “We’ve used more dry ice today than in the last 10 years put together!]

“What she created was a genuine comet, though thankfully on a smaller scale than the real thing.”

Later in the afternoon, Professor Grady led an opening ceremony in front of guests ranging from Stratton staff to colleagues from schools across the area, the key professionals who designed and constructed the building, the mayor of Biggleswade Councillor Michael North and Councillor Steve Dixon, Central Bedfordshire Council’s lead member for education and skills.

Professor Grady will return to the school in December as guest of honour at the annual senior prize giving, and she has requested to be invited to school productions and concerts as she is keenly interested in music and drama.

As part of the project, changes have also been made to parking and landscaping at the front of the school, and an old gym and changing rooms have been pulled down.

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