Loreto College - Coleraine, Co. Derry, Northern Ireland
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Kenneth Ham of NASA is presented with a memento of his visit to Loreto College - View Full Size Image
Kenneth Ham of NASA is presented with a memento of his visit to Loreto College
Kenneth Ham with the Principal and pupils from LCC and partner primary schools - View Full Size Image
Kenneth Ham with the Principal and pupils from LCC and partner primary schools
10/09/2008 NASA ASTRONAUT VISITS LORETO COLLEGE COLERAINE

Loreto College Coleraine, Specialist School, was one of only six schools in Northern Ireland to host an astronaut from the NASA Space Shuttle Discovery, on Wednesday 10th September 2008.

Organised in partnership between the NASA Education Programme and the Science Specialist Schools initiative, the visit was an opportunity for Loreto College students, joined by their counterparts from several partner schools, to hear an absorbing talk by the astronaut, Mr Kenneth Ham, who had taken part in several  Space Shuttle missions – most recently, in June 2008.

Mr Ham spoke to a packed auditorium of students and staff from Loreto College, St Patrick’s College Maghera, St John’s Primary School Coleraine, St Colum’s Primary School Portstewart, and Maghera Primary School.  After an informative presentation which included a film from some of his most recent missions, he answered many questions, enthralling his audience with real-life answers to questions ranging from how it felt to see the Earth from Space, to the reality of being in zero gravity, giving all those listening a first-hand insight into the reality of being involved in space travel.

An astronaut since his selection in 1998, Kenneth Ham is also a Commander in the US Navy.  He has over 3700 flight hours in 40 different aircraft types, and in June 2008 acted as pilot of the Space Shuttle Discovery.  During his visit to Loreto College, he was immensely generous with his time, answering questions, signing autographs and telling students about the level of qualification needed for a career in space exploration – and about the close links between the study of Science and the exploration of space. 

Students and staff who attended the presentation by Mr Kenneth Ham found the morning to be extremely interesting and thought-provoking.  College Principal Mr Brian Lenehan commented that it had been an inspiring opportunity for all those present to consider one of the most exciting careers imaginable; Mr Ham's presentation had also helped students to place their own studies of Science and Communication in a completely new context, with the realisation that learning can, quite literally, open up a whole new frontier.

Before leaving Coleraine for his next mission, Mr Ham received a presentation on behalf of Loreto College from Head Boy Patrick Kelly and Head Girl Catherine Diamond, as well as being thanked for an inspiring presentation by Mr Brian Lenehan, Principal of Loreto College.