Second Year Visit Herstmonceux

Second Year Visit Herstmonceux

Last Friday, Second Year pupils enjoyed an enriching visit to the historic Observatory at Herstmonceux, East Sussex. 

The Second Year boarded the coaches (which Mr Evans had conspicuously named after two Space Shuttles, namely Discovery and Atlantis) almost immediately after their morning registration, and then we launched into our team building challenges and site tours within a few minutes of our arrival at the Observatory.  With the Second Year science courses at Caterham featuring lots of opportunities for practical work and team-building tasks, the events at the Observatory made for a terrific “teaser trailer” for the rest of the year.

The teams were divided by Houses, with one team representing each House and four other teams (all of which were named after characters from Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons) representing “coalitions” between two or more Houses.  Lewisham made their mark when they built a sufficiently tall tower (2.92 m) that Mr Evans could not reach up to the top of it with a tape measure and a small step ladder.  Team Forest Green, a coalition of Ridgefield and Underwood pupils, took an excellent second place in the tower-building challenge, which tested their decision-making abilities regarding which blocks they needed to use from a small selection.  Meanwhile, over at the codebreaking challenge, Team Rhapsody (a coalition of members of all six Houses) excelled at deciphering a series of cryptic messages by interpreting a coded wheel of symbols.  Congratulations must go to Lewisham for winning the team challenges overall.

Whenever the teams were not completing these challenges, they were busy discovering the many delights around the site.  Dome F (a series of infographics and exhibits about the history of astronomy) proved very popular, as did the interactive Telescope Tour (in which several pupils delivered excellent role play performances as an astronomer and a distant star), and the ever-popular Discovery Park exhibits made welcome return appearances.

A new addition to our programme for this year was the Science Show.  Entitled Newton’s Laws in Action, the Show began with a brief introduction to the life and CV of Sir Isaac, before going on to feature a very loud rocket launcher, an impressive hover board, and a few pieces of wood that had been painted to look like sandwich ingredients.  The last of these featured in a demonstration of the relationship between pressure, force and area in physics, with Mr Taylor taking a superb starring role.

Herstmonceux 2021 was a grand day out, launching the Second Year science programme and relaunching the House events calendar for all who joined us on the trip.  Thank you so much to the staff leaders for coming along and supporting your teams with such gusto.  My thanks must also go to the Observatory staff, for opening their doors to us following their prolonged closure during the pandemic, and to the Second Year pupils, for representing the School so politely and enthusiastically.  Here’s to a superb year ahead.

Richard Evans

Teacher of Chemistry

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