Earlier this week we announced that we will be attending the ‘Space Rocks‘ event at The Indigo at the O2, London. Noah has had a longtime fascination with everything ‘out of this world’ but did you know that his love of space once inspired a very spontaneous, unexpected adventure to see his hero, astronaut Tim Peake?
One evening, whilst perusing Facebook (as you do), I came across an event that looked interesting, ‘Discover Space’ in Manchester that would be held alongside the UK Space Conference. The details said that Tim Peake would be there to give a talk. Perfect, I thought! To my astonishment I saw that the date was the very next day. In a flurry, I ordered our free tickets for the event, however tickets for the Tim Peake talk seemed to be unavailable. Fearing that it may had sold out, I emailed the event organiser.
Cut to 5am the following day! I woke up and to my surprise I had an email back enthusiastically telling us to come on down and that we would be able to get a ticket on the door. Wow!
When Noah climbed into my bed for morning cuddles, I asked him if he would rather chill out and go swimming, or get dressed right away and go to Manchester for a space event. Of course, I already knew what his answer would be! I was still feeling dubious about whether he would actually get to see Tim Peake so I didn’t mention that! Plus, we had three hours to get ready and get on the train from Chesterfield to Manchester, I had little faith that we would actually make it on time!
Not long later, we were zooming towards Manchester, munching on a makeshift breakfast!
The train was a little delayed, so with about ten minutes to spare, we jumped in a taxi to the Manchester Central Convention Centre. When we arrived, we could see there was a queue of families, mostly with children aged 4 –12, waiting to be let in; fantastic evidence that Tim Peake has inspired a new generation of wannabe astronauts and space enthusiasts.
We got our wristbands, but Noah, who could not yet read, was oblivious to the real reason we were there.
Everyone was ushered into a lecture hall and I could hear lots of excited chatter from all the children. Even Noah was eager to take his seat, a look of anticipation upon his face despite having no idea what was actually going on.
Tim Peake was announced to the stage and Noah’s grin was priceless.
The ESA astronaut talked to the audience all about what it was like launching to space in the Russian spacecraft called the ‘Soyuz’. He also showed us some breathtaking images of our world from space. Of course when he finished, about a hundred kids scurried down to the front for a better glimpse and to shake the commander’s hand. Noah felt a bit disappointed that he didn’t get a chance.
He soon cheered up when we walked through to the ‘Discover Space’ exhibition space, jam-packed with engaging exhibits, experiments and activities.
What I loved about this exhibition, as a parent, was that there was no one trying to sell us anything. Every table, brilliantly catered towards the younger audience, was purely educational. All the activities were provided by some very reputable educational establishments such as The University of Manchester and National Centre for Earth Observation.
Noah was fascinated learning about how air pressure works, watching a demonstration using marshmellows and a plastic syringe (if you want to see how this works, take a look at this video). He took a syringe away with him and loved repeating the experiment to anyone who would watch!
He loved investigating the astronaut suits they had on display, spending, what seemed like hours, grilling the lady about what all the parts were for and how they worked. He also got a chance to try some things on.
Another exhibit that really captivated him was all about the smells of space. It was a game to guess what the scent was, and which features of space had been described as smelling of these. Did you know that the centre of our universe is meant to smell like raspberries?
Speaking of raspberries, there was a chance to show off and experiment with some basic programming skills as he got a chance to play with a Raspberry Pi (a small single-board computer that is popularly used in basic programming projects). Even at the young age of five, kids can very quickly pick up how to create a light show.
There were tonnes of interesting rocks on display. Perhaps this was the moment that started his ever growing, self-proclaimed ‘rock collection’.
We also enjoyed a mobile planetarium show, played around with UV rays, experienced virtual reality and crafted a comet with a tail. By far though, Noah’s favourite activity was the air rocket workshop. We had to sign up for this and return at our allotted time so it was a very small group of children taking part. I helped Noah construct a rocket out of really basic materials, then he got a chance to test it! It launched right up to the ceiling of the conference centre!
Before the end of the day, he had time to take part in an astronaut exercise challenge (Mission X Train Like An Astronaut – an international initiative to get kids active) which he took quite seriously!
It was a truly fun and informative day that I’m glad we raced out of bed for. We’ll be looking out for news of a similar event (we really hope they do one!) when the bi-annually UK Space Conference is due to return in 2019.
Until then, astronauts of the future can see Tim Peake when he takes part in the ‘Space Rocks‘ event at Indigo at the O2, London on Sunday, 22nd April 2018.