November 21st 2016

Year 10s look into Space Weather

Our Year 10 Computer Science class are undertaking a Royal Society coding project with Dr George (Lead for Computer Science at Queensbridge) and Dr Elvidge of the University of Birmingham.

The project will provide them with a clearer insight into the world of data analysis and taking part in cutting edge research. The project has received funding as part of the Royal Society Partnership Grant programme. The information below will outline the problem that is space weather and how our students are going to go about helping.

Space weather is one of the major challenges facing modern society, with the potential to disrupt power grids, damage satellites and endanger human life and health. Yet the topic is fairly niche and not introduced at secondary school at all.

This project introduces the general topic of space weather to Key Stage 4 and looks to develop cutting edge techniques which could be used for better measuring and modelling of the ionosphere and magnetosphere. This will build upon and stretch the analytical skills that are taught in Key Stage 4 (maths and science) and presents a real world problem to solve in Computer Science for those taking part.

This project will develop techniques for processing single-frequency GPS data which could be employed on a global scale. The BBC micro:bit contains a magnetometer capable of measuring the Earth’s magnetic field. The sensitivity of the instrument will be investigated and see if geomagnetic space weather effects can be detected. An approach will be developed which can aid the nation-wide collection of suitable data.

(Image: students listening to a lecture by Dr Elvidge at the start of the project)