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Spaceman on a mission to inspire Muswell Hill schoolchildren

PUBLISHED: 11:10 28 November 2008 | UPDATED: 15:39 07 September 2010

French Astronaut Jean-Francois Clervoy visits Alexandra Park School

French Astronaut Jean-Francois Clervoy visits Alexandra Park School

© Nigel Sutton 17 Redington Rd,London,NW37QX. Phone 020 7794 3008. email pictures@nigelsuttonphotography.com

SCHOOLCHILDREN in Muswell Hill were star struck when an astronaut taught them an out-of-this-world lesson. French astronaut Jean-Francoise Clervoy visited Alexandra Park School on Thursday to launch the school s new space education programme and the Euro

French Astronaut Jean-Francois Clervoy visits Alexandra Park School

SCHOOLCHILDREN in Muswell Hill were star struck when an astronaut taught them an out-of-this-world lesson.

French astronaut Jean-Francoise Clervoy visited Alexandra Park School on Thursday to launch the school's new space education programme and the European Space Agency's (ESA) new educational materials.

Mr Clervoy, who has been on three space missions, spent the day talking to pupils and answering questions on space food, gravity and how to go to the toilet in space.

GCSE student Daniel Osei, 15, said: "It was really interesting to meet a real astronaut. I've never experienced anything like it.

"We hear about astronauts and space at school and on TV but to have someone who has actually lived it and been in space come and talk to us is really amazing.

"It's an inspiration for kids my age who used to dream of being astronauts when they were little."

During his visit, Mr Clervoy taught a lesson to a group of GCSE science students which was filmed by satellite channel, Teachers TV and met with Year 7 students in the school's newly-formed science and engineering club.

Georgia Mancharshaw, 17, who is currently studying physics as one of her three A-levels, said: "It's really cool that out of the whole of Europe, he's come to our school to launch the new material. It's been really good to meet him."

Mr Clervoy, 50, said: "I've really enjoyed my visit. The students were all listening so carefully and behaving very well which is really nice.

"Space is not something you touch or smell every day. So it's very important for teachers to make space accessible to students."

Earlier this year, the Rhodes Avenue school became a member of a newly-formed 30-strong national network of leading space education programme schools - a project funded by the science and technology facilities council.

The programme includes a new space-themed science and engineering club for Year 7 students and visits to an observatory.

Michael McKenzie, headteacher, said: "It was a great honour to have Jean-Francois visit Alexandra Park School.

"He was the first astronaut I'd ever met. There are few schools in the UK to have had that honour. Nothing is more inspirational for our students than to see a real life astronaut."

The new materials included a teaching DVD about the resources humans need to live on Mars.

Shamim Hartevelt, from ESA, said: "We need to invest in young people today to make them interested in space and science because they are the astronauts and engineers of tomorrow."

Meanwhile, pupils from the school have been performing in sci-fi musical, Return to the Forbidden Planet.

The play, a modern version of Shakespeare's The Tempest, has been performed all week, with its last showing this Friday.

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