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Wind farm company provides grant for Norfolk stargazing

PUBLISHED: 18:00 12 March 2018

The Reepham High School observatory. Picture: Reepham High School

The Reepham High School observatory. Picture: Reepham High School

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A wind farm company has pledged to provide a grant that will give a Norfolk community the chance to gain a greater understanding of the night sky.

The grant from the Dudgeon Community Fund will enable Reepham High School to make greater use of their observatory, as part of a teaching scheme that focuses on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

The school currently holds three community stargazing evenings at its observatory each year and with the help of the Dudgeon grant, the STEM teaching team will be able to increase that number.

They will also have the opportunity to hire a planetarium for the events, pay for the expenses associated with visiting speakers and meet the costs associated with telescope maintenance.

Sarah Hookway, head of physics at Reepham High School, said: “Activities such as stargazing evenings enable us to engage parents, pupils and members of the wider community in STEM subjects outside of the curriculum, and on a clear evening we can expect to welcome up to 80 guests to the observatory.

“Our first event in 2018 will be held on Monday 19 March when there will be an observatory open evening with a lecture given by Dr Helen Mason, a solar physicist from Cambridge University.”

The STEM curriculum at Reepham High School includes astrophysics being taught to all year 7 pupils and GCSE pupils taking Triple Science.

In 2016 students at school were among those who took part in a conversation with astronaut Tim Peake during his time on the International Space Station.

Emil Orderud, plant manager at Dudgeon Offshore Wind Farm said: “We are very pleased to be able to provide a grant from the Dudgeon Community Fund to support the innovative approach taken to STEM studies and awareness at Reepham High School.

“It is so important to the UK economy, and its renewable energy industry, that we encourage today’s STEM students to become tomorrow’s engineers.”

The Dudgeon Wind Farm is located off the coast of Norfolk and is owned and operated by a subsidiary of the Norwegian energy companies, Statoil and Statkraft, and the Abu Dhabi-based company Masdar. It went into operation in November 2017.

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