Woman space scientist wows Blackheath High Junior School 

Space scientist and The Sky at Night presenter Maggie Aderin-Pocock met school pupils during a celebration of their new challenge-based programme for girls.

Last Friday, pupils at Blackheath High Junior School in Wemyss Road, Blackheath Village, met Ms Aderin-Pocock at a special assembly to celebrate the school’s Mighty Girl Challenge.

Ms Aderin-Pocock was shown the achievements of the Mighty Girls, including learning a language, upcycling old clothes into new items, building a bird feeder and learning key phrases in sign language.  

She then told pupils the story of her own achievements, her early life as a shy schoolgirl who attended 13 different schools, her journey with her ‘superpower’ dyslexia, her fascination with science and determination to become a scientist.

Blackheath High Junior School headteacher Sarah Skevington said: “Dr Maggie was captivating, her talk was so relevant and so inspiring for our budding scientists, mathematicians and space explorers, and for all girls. 

“Her story of resilience and ambition was remarkable and one our girls will remember forever. 

“We hope her wise words will inspire the next generation of Blackheath High students to be curious and push themselves to dream big. 

Ms Aderin-Pocock also discussed her most recent achievements, like meeting the late Queen, an Honorary Doctorate at the University of Leicester and being memorialised as a Barbie doll.  

The Mighty Girls Challenge began in June 2021 as an activity-based programme designed to inspire students to be ambitious, brave and curious.

This is the first Mighty Girl Challenge awards ceremony to take place, to showcase the achievements of the Years 3 and 4 students who have completed many of their challenges, and inspiring pupils in Year 2 who are about to embark on the programme.  

Ms Aderin-Pocock talked to pupils about the importance of curiosity in education and of growing diversity and equality in STEM.

She spoke of her role models, who included Katherine Johnson from NASA, Marie Curie and her Nobel-prize winning chemist daughter Irene Joliot-Curie, as well as Yuri Gagarin, whose first journey into space laid the foundations for her own ambitious spirit. 

At the end of the assembly, pupils from Year 6 awarded Ms Aderin-Pocock with an honorary Mighty Girl certificate, in recognition of her own ambition, bravery and curiosity. 

Mrs Skevington said: “I was humbled by the amazing achievements of our students in this year’s Mighty Girl Challenge Programme, and delighted that their hard work has been recognised at such a successful  event. 

“I am also extremely proud of the Mighty Girls Challenge and what it helps our pupils to aim for and achieve.”

Pictured top: Mighty Girls listening to a talk by Maggie Aderin-Pocock at Blackheath High Junior school (Picture: Briony Mitchell)

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