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Visit to Birr Castle

Last week was Maths week and to celebrate, pupils from 5th and 6th class travelled to Birr Castle on Thursday to participate in a Science workshop on the theme of “Astronauts & Space”.

We departed the school at 10.30am and arrived after 12 noon. We ate our lunch in the courtyard and then Alison, our leader, led us to our workshop which was situated in a conservatory near the Great Telescope. It was a beautiful day so it was very warm while we worked.

First we were introduced to a British astronaut Tim Peake, as there are no Irish astronauts at present, although there are some in training. Alison told us that astronauts need to be between 27 and 37 years old, athletic, and must have completed a degree and a doctorate, before even trying to become an astronaut. Astronauts must then complete a series of aptitude, medical and psychological tests.

We did some aptitude tests, like Maths puzzles. The first thing we did was close our eyes, time a minute in our heads and raise our hand when we thought it had passed. Astronauts, when training, have to time an hour, while simultaneously carrying out other tasks.

We then tested our memories by being given a minute to memorise a number of pictures, and at the end of the workshop in pairs, we had to record how many we could name.

We also completed puzzles based on pictures and images, exactly the same as what astronauts must complete when training.

After a while we were put into groups and had to complete a series of puzzles. Alison watched to see how well we worked together.

We were told a lot of new information about Space. In groups we were handed a very long till receipt and we had to label one end the sun and the other Pluto. We then had to insert the names of all the other planets in between, at correct intervals.

Then Alison selected a mission commander from each group - red, green, blue and they were handed a rocket each which they had to shoot into the sky.

Afterwards we all went to look at the telescope. It was amazing and Alison told us about its history of; it held a world record for being the largest telescope in the world at one time. However it hasn’t been used in around 100 years but still looks impressive.

We returned home after a short trip to the playground.

We all had a great day in Birr.


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