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The British National Space Centre and the Department for Education and Skills have joined forces to bring real-life space science into the classroom.

The BNSC has worked with teachers to develop lesson plans that draw on the science and technology of the Cassini-Huygens mission. The resources, which are available from the BNSC's website include investigations into the composition of Saturn's rings, the density of the moons and so on.

The BNSC and the DfES launched the programme yesterday with a sample lesson for students at Sacred Heart RC School in Camberwell, South London. The lesson examined how understanding of the density of the atmosphere on Titan affects the chances of a successful landing by the Huygens probe.

Former education secretary Charles Clarke was due to attend the launch, but was excused from class as he had to go and be home secretary instead.

Lord Sainsbury, minister for science and innovation, said: "The Cassini-Huygens mission is the kind of experiment that demonstrates the excitement of modern science. The children are fascinated by the fact that it took seven years to get to Saturn, and that the whole mission could be over in two and a half hours."

Ajay Desai, science teacher at Sacred Heart, told The Register: "It is nice to teach science that is actually up to date. Making physics interesting and contemporary is great."

Jo Besford, a physics teacher from a school in Harrow, who set up some of the lesson plans for the programme, was also impressed with the resources. "Space is the one thing that excites them," she said of her students. "This is about making science more than an academic experience: hopefully it will motivate them to follow the story in their own time."

She hopesthe scheme will make the students see space science as a possible career.

The resources are aimed at children between 11 and 16, and are tailored to fit with the goals and targets prescribed by the National Curriculum. ®

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