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Visit from Helen Sharman, the UK’s first astronaut, to St Peter’s

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Visit from Helen Sharman, the UK’s first astronaut, to St Peter’s

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Pupils from St Olave’s School, along with Year 6 pupils from Burton Green Primary School and Clifton Green Primary School were taken on a descriptive journey into space by Helen Sharman, Britain’s first astronaut, on Tuesday 12 November. She bought themes of science and space to life and answered a variety of questions from pupils including ‘did you say the countdown to blast off yourself?’ and ‘what inspired you to go into space when it was such a male dominated environment?’.  

It was fascinating to hear her describe the training and what it was like living in space. Helen inspired the children on the limitlessness of their future career prospects by discussing breaking her own boundaries of what she thought she could achieve: “We should push forward not only our own individual boundaries, but also the boundaries of what humans believe is possible. People are the biggest limitations in our own lives. There’s a huge amount we can do and we should make the best use of our lives for the benefit of the world.”  

Helen Sharman then went on to carry out the official opening of the Pascal Building. Guests at the event were given a tour of the York Design Award winning building by sixth formers who are taught there and who benefit from the purpose built study spaces. Many other pupils from across York also use the building on a regular basis as it is used for GCSE lessons and masterclasses for the Independent State School Partnership (ISSP). 

Head Master Jeremy Walker extended a warm welcome to all of the guests and particular thanks to all those who contributed to the design, build and use of the building. He also repeated the school’s gratitude to its neighbours for their patience during the disruption caused by the build, and his commitment to welcoming people from across the community to share such a wonderful resource. 

In her opening speech, Helen Sharman recalled a Galileo quote printed on the walls of the Pascal Building; ‘the laws of nature are written in the language of mathematics.’ This led Helen to speak about her eighteen months’ intensive flight training in Star City near Moscow. She recalled the importance of language; through learning Russian, calling on her schoolgirl French and using the universal language of mathematics, Helen was able to communicate with her fellow astronauts as she prepared for her space voyage. An inspirational speaker, Helen enthused her audience about the importance of language and mathematics. A great beginning for the Pascal Building. 

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