Skip to main content

Gifted Students Create Martian Movies and Design their Own Space Odyssey

Originally Published 12 February 2004

Some of the brightest kids in the country who are members of the National Academy for Gifted and Talented Youth (NAGTY), based at the University of Warwick, will explore life on other planets and create an animation of what Mars probe Beagle 2 may have found if it had suceeded, or what NASA’s roving US Mars probes have still to discover, on 17th-18th of February 2004 at West Kirby Grammar School, Graham Road, Wirral.

As part of an outreach event organised by NAGTY 30 students aged 11-16 from across England will learn what it would be like to live on a different planet at a two-day course entitled “Monsters and Planets”.

As part of the event the students will creatively, but scientifically, invent a planet and develop a monster to suit its environmental conditions. They will write a creative narrative about their monster and planet combination and make them into a two-minute Wallace and Gromit-style animated video, complete with special effects and sound track.

Professor Deborah Eyre, from NAGTY based at the University of Warwick, said: “Students will build a planet and consider what type of creature would then function best in that environment, and through these processes will reflect on evolution. This is a fun way of getting across some serious science. The students will understand how creatures evolve and adapt to fit ecological niches. They will learn about how diverse other planets can be and what factors are necessary for life, as we know it. And added to all that is the experience of creative writing and working as team to produce a short animation.”

The Academy is open to the top 5% of gifted and talented pupils in the UK, and is working to improve educational provision for the most able students by working with students, educators and parents.

Professor Deborah Eyre added: “Following the successes of our Summer Schools the Academy has developed a comprehensive range of outreach events to meet the needs of the brightest students in the country. Pupils with high potential need to have the opportunity to become high-achievers, and giftedness needs to be brought out through access to challenging opportunities. The Academy is now reaching out to students all over England to ensure that the gifted are given the education they need.”

Outreach events are short courses that normally take place at weekends or in school holidays and are open to all of the Academy’s current 2,500 members. They run at venues all over the country and are delivered by top experts in their field. This year NAGTY are set to offer around 200 events, with about 6000 places in total. Other outreach events will explore diverse topics, from the archaeology of human remains and history of medicine, to youth crime and deviance.

Photo/ Filming Opportunity: 11.30am prompt, Wednesday 18th February, West Kirby Grammar School, Graham Road, West Kirby, Wirral, CH48 5DP You are invited to illustrate your coverage of the event with images of gifted kids creating their own Martians and creative version of the Red Planet.

For more information or to arrange photographs and interviews contact: Jenny Murray, Communications Office, University of Warwick, Tel: 02476 574 255, Mobile: 07876 21 7740. George Forster, Science and Health Education, Tel: 01603 879 789 Mobile: 07973 452 772.