Professor opens £8m science centre at Stratton Upper School - and creates a comet

Professor Monica Grady opens new �8 million science centre
Professor Monica Grady opens new �8 million science centre

A leading professor in the planetary field has officially opened a £8 milllion science centre at Stratton Upper School.

Professor Monica Grady was the guest of honour at a special day of celebration at Stratton Upper School to mark the formal opening of the new centre.

Headteacher Rob Watson said: “It was a fabulous occasion. Professor Grady was so generous with her time. She spent the whole day with us talking to students about her work and passion for space and space exploration.”

Well-known for her involvement with the Rosetta space probe, the first satellite to be successfully landed on a comet, Professor Grady talked about the importance of the project and the team of scientists from all disciplines that made it happen.

One of the highlights of her visit was watching her create a comet in the laboratory. Head science technician and Stratton’s longest serving member of staff, Andrew Peacock, said: “What she created was a genuine comet, though thankfully on a smaller scale than the real thing! We’ve used more dry ice today than in the last 10 years put together.”

Head of science, Peter Riley, said: “My background is in physics. Her work at the forefront of our understanding of asteroids and meteorites is well-known, but her effortless communication with students across our age range was fantastic.”

Professor Grady led an opening ceremony during her visit on Thursday, September 28, in front of guests ranging from Stratton staff, colleagues from schools across the area, the key professionals who designed and constructed the building, Cllr Michael North, Mayor of Biggleswade and Cllr Steve Dixon, Central Bedfordshire’s Executive member for education and skills.

The professor will return to the school in December as guest of honour at the annual senior prize giving and requested that she is invited to school productions and concerts as she is interested in music and drama.