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Exoplanets and education at 11 Downing Street

By Oli Usher, on 19 February 2015

Guest post by Anita Heward

Artist's impression of exoplanet Gliese 876b. Credit: NASA, ESA, G. Bacon (STScI)

Artist’s impression of exoplanet Gliese 876b. Credit: NASA, ESA, G. Bacon (STScI)

The potential for exoplanet research to inspire students and widen participation at university from under-represented groups will be highlighted today at 11 Downing Street.

Clara Sousa Silva

Clara Sousa Silva

Dr Clara Sousa Silva, who completed her PhD at UCL last year, has been invited to give a four-minute presentation during an event hosted by the Chancellor for Your Life and Researchers in Schools (RIS). Clara is currently participating in the RIS teacher training and professional development programme.

The programme builds links between universities and schools by training researchers that have completed PhDs to become classroom teachers, while supporting them for 20% of their time to pursue academic interests. Clara is training as a physics teacher at Isleworth and Syon School for Boys and, through the RIS programme, is continuing aspects of her research into atmospheric characterisation of cool stars and exoplanets.

Clara also heads up the education programme for Twinkle, a UK space mission that will characterise exoplanet atmospheres using an instrument led by UCL.

EduTwinkle will draw on Clara’s experiences with RIS and the Brilliant Club to foster a productive relationship between space exploration and British schools, increase girls’ uptake of STEM subjects at A-level and higher education and to widen participation at universities from under-represented communities.

  • Anita Heward is press officer for the Twinkle Space Mission