6th class visit to Blackrock Castle

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Yesterday 6th class went on a trip to Blackrock Castle for a workshop called ‘The TARA telescope’ for Science week.

We saw the impressive telescope at the very top of the observatory and learned a bit about how it works. We heard that Blackrock Castle have a telescope in California where they gather more information about space. They chose that location on account of the time and climate difference between there and here.

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Next we spent time in the planetarium where we learned about what will be visible in the night sky on November 25th. We also heard about constellations, planets, the effects of light pollution and The Milky Way.

After that we attended a lecture about climate change and the effects of global warming – for example the result of melting ice caps will be a rise in sea level and tropical fish may have to move to find colder water. We were also told that Ireland may have warmer summers and colder winters in future – changing our temperate climate to more of a continental one.

It was time for lunch after all that listening! Then our telescope workshop with Jane began.

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We used a variety of lenses and saw the difference between them. Some magnified objects while others caused things to appear upside down. We also did some mirror writing which was harder than it sounds! We tested our peripheral vision by simply spreading our arms and we also measured each other’s pupils. Our last task was where we simply worked in pairs with one boy dropping a pencil and his partner trying to catch it between his thumb and index finger. We varied the height and speed of the drop to challenge each other. This tested our reactions and was linked to the shutter speed of our eyes.

To finish, we went back to the lecture theatre where we took part in a Skype session with a Canadian scientist called Elbertz (we’re not sure of the spelling!) He showed us a variety of ways we can use cameras including 3D imaging. He also mentioned how kinect for Xbox can be used in lots of cool ways. He had an oculus rift and a leap motion which detected his hand so that it appeared like an X ray. We were very impressed! He told us about the work he does including different types of gaming. He recently attended the ISU (International Space University) and spoke to people at the International Space Station. Elbertz told us that there will be astronauts in Cork in 2017. At the end, we listened to a rap by Mahon Youthreach. It was really good!

We had a great time and we are inspired to learn even more about the features of space. This will be another great memory of our time in St. Joseph’s!

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