IRIS is a charitable trust supporting young people and teachers to develop authentic research in schools. It gives students access to the world of real, cutting edge science by bringing university and industrial experts and equipment into school laboratories. When sixth form students take part in research, greater numbers go on to study science at university and take up careers in science and engineering. By working with teachers to develop their research interests, IRIS also helps to boost their own career development.


Here at CCGS KS3 Space Club we are contributing towards ground-breaking research into a wide range of celestial objects within our Universe. We are taking part in the IRIS (Institute for Research in Schools) Cosmic Mining project which involves many schools working together to discover, identify and categorise different types of astronomical bodies. Throughout this astrophysics project, students contribute to studies which aim to identify how cosmic materials were created over the history of the Universe.

IRIS have kindly provided a bank of spectral data which has been harvested from the Spitzer Space Telescope. This data contains a wealth of information about distant masses which allows us to interpret what we are looking at. It includes details such as wavelength, frequency and intensity. From a scientific perspective, students’ work will become an extremely valuable resource for astronomers as it forms the first fully classified catalogue of these sources.

Students learn about the evolution of stars, the electromagnetic spectrum, spectral analysis and the key features of Stars, Planets, Galaxies and Black Holes in order to enable them to make informed decisions and draw conclusions from their research. Once we have determined what we are looking at, we can begin to ask deeper questions such as “how old is it?”, “what is it made up of?” and “can it support life?”. The goal, however, is to assist astronomers with the selection of potential targets for the James Webb Telescope – the largest, most powerful and complex space telescope to ever be built.

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