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Oundle collaboration with Imperial College, London launched with 'Space Challenge' event
19th May 2016

On Thursday 28th April, the first collaboration between Imperial College London and Oundle School took place in Oundle’s SciTec building with a ‘Space Challenge’ for sixty local year 7 and 8 pupils.

Pupils from Thomas Deacon Academy, Northampton Academy and Oundle School took part in what was a very successful inaugural event. The afternoon started with a hands-on space lecture by Neil Monteiro who discussed space travel and space flight with some help from keen audience members. This was then followed by a session in a brand new inflatable Planetarium owned by the Outreach team of Imperial–erected in Oundle’s Great Hall. Here pupils travelled the solar system and were able to see stars and constellations normally obscured by light pollution.

The final part of the day was handed over to designing, making and testing rockets with the aim to bring an egg safely back to earth after launching.

Chemistry teacher and Sanderson fellow, James Bessent commented, “It is hoped that the Space Challenge will be the start of a very fruitful relationship between Imperial Colleg, London and Oundle School who aim to use the School and its SciTec facilities as a regional hub for local schools for future STEM activities.”

Back in September, a party of Imperial representatives, including the Head of Outreach, Dr Annalisa Alexander, visited Oundle School to explore new collaborations involving STEM subjects. Both institutions had recently received philanthropic gifts from the Michael Uren OBE foundation.  Imperial received £40m to build a pioneering biomedical engineering centre, whilst Oundle received half a million pounds to help in the completion of the SciTec campus.  Michael Uren OBE and his other Trustees are passionate about seeking to encourage the education of engineers and development of engineering within the UK. 

One of Michael’s principal objectives is to help to create the engineers and entrepreneurs of the future and his donation for the SciTec Campus reflects his support for the School’s vision to provide state-of-the-art facilities for tomorrow’s engineers.

Michael Uren said, “This wonderfully exciting project places Oundle where it should be - one of the foremost engineering schools in the country. The UK needs engineers and entrepreneurs if it is to compete and succeed in the future.  We were delighted that my Foundation could assist Oundle to achieve its fund-raising dreams of completing the SciTec Campus and enhancing the Patrick Engineering Centre.”

The development of the SciTec Campus (due to open in September 2016) completes Oundle’s original vision for the award-winning science complex of SciTec which was built in 2007. It sees the construction of a new Mathematics department, new Science labs and a complete refurbishment of the Patrick Engineering Centre. It will link Science, Mathematics, Design, Technology and Engineering both physically and philosophically, providing state-of-the-art facilities for tomorrow’s scientists and engineers.

The aim is to provide ‘practical hands-on experience’, with pupils able to move seamlessly from theory to practice and from pure science to the achievement of workable technology, whilst embracing new fields such as nanotechnology and mechatronics.

Former pupil (Old Oundelian) and major donor, Alex Patrick CBE commented, Since the Victorian Era, Great Britain has excelled in producing some of the world's greatest scientists, engineers and innovative thinkers. William Sanderson, Headmaster at Oundle School from 1892-1922 recognised this in the early part of the 20th Century and pioneered education in science and engineering at the School. Many pupils who attended the School because of such aspirations have gone on to become the technological leaders of their generation.

As an Old Oundelian I always enjoyed my time in the school workshops. Today's pupils continue to experience this opportunity and it is for this very reason that I, and my family trust, are committed to the further development of the Oundle SciTec Campus. In so doing I hope to help ensure that Oundle remains at the forefront of schools, providing the facilities by which we can inspire future innovators at an early stage in their career development.”

Head of Oundle School, Sarah Kerr-Dineen, commented, “The completion of the SciTec Campus will bring to life in the heart of the School a vision to inspire all pupils, and to create the engineers and industry leaders of tomorrow.”

In addition to Academic Scholarships, the School offers two Scholarships for Design and Technology, one at 13+ and one at 16+. Entry forms and further details are available on the admissions section of the School website: www.oundleschool.org.uk .

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