Bringing imagination to The Big Space Day at the Royal Albert Hall

We often work with amazing cultural organisations in London and beyond and last weekend, on 6 May, we were delighted to join in the activities at the Big Space Day at the Royal Albert Hall – a family festival exploring the wonders of space. Here, Michelle Borda, a creative educator and our Imagination Hub Project Manager, shares day’s activities and inventions.

Transforming the The Royal Albert Hall

As soon as we arrived at the Royal Albert Hall were welcomed by a huge space man floating in the entrance, followed by a magical scene with enormous planets, a flying space rocket and planets suspended from the Hall’s ceiling. A Mars Rover was wondering around the vast area, usually filled by the stalls or performance space. The Big Space Day was about to start! The iOi team were all excited to be part of such an ambitious event, which was part of the Festival of Science: Space at the Royal Albert Hall. It was also a great honour to be alongside other experimental and renowned institutions including the National Space Centre, Science Museum, the Planetarium and the UK Space Agency, to name a few.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it!

The mission of the iOi was to invent and create Space Gadgets which would help explorers in space. We had spent the last week thinking about what things we might need if we were going to leave the comfort of planet Earth and adventure into the unknown. What was on the list?

  • Entertainment: as it´s such a long trip, we’ll need to find ways to communicate with our space buddies, other than talking
  • Tools: a multipurpose space helmet might come in handy, as we would need to make lots of decisions along the way. As in any adventure, you never know what will happen!
  • Magic: who knows what’s possible in space? Why not add in a little magic to help us get through some tricky situations

Bringing inventions to life

To prototype our inventions, we use coding to programme MicroBits. We started with a few proposals to get families thinking, but the aim was for families to take the lead after they learnt how to code and explored what the MicroBit can do. And they did just that! Families made short animations for entertainment, including rockets launching, funny face stories and flashing hearts (also useful to let your space buddies know that you’re alive!). They also created a Light Communication Machine (very much like our good old Morse Code).

An 8-year-old explained to me how it works:

“If you show a rainbow on your device it means that everything was OK, if you see red light it means danger and if you see a green light it means that we can continue exploring.”

My favourite gadget of the day was The Decision-Making Machine. If you ask a question such as “should we go to Mars?” and shake it, the machine will tell you the answer. The answer to our Mars question was “Go for it!”. Creating the code was complicated, but it was worth it for such a fun and innovative gadget.

A boy coding with MicroBit and LEDs

The magic of space

On a different station, we were making Magic Space Wands. This activity helped families learn about simple circuits and how you can make light using LEDs and a battery packs. The wands helped us to illuminate the way through space (it´s very dark up there) and brought some very useful magic to our intergalactic adventure.

The Big Space Day was a day of joy, exploration, space and magic. It was great fun to run an Imagination Hub in such an iconic venue and we can´t wait for the next opportunity to imagine travelling to future worlds – we’re already cooking up more space gadgets ideas!

There are loads more events and activities happening at Royal Albert Hall as part of the Festival of Science: Space. Check out what else they have going on here.

Taking part in the event at the Royal Albert Hall was made possible by the kind support of the John Lyon’s Charity.

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