An out-of-this-world lesson...
T'S NOT every day you get a science lesson from a Nasa astronaut.
IBut for around 400 Welsh secondary school pupils, conventional teaching will soon go out of the window - and beyond.
American astronaut Steve Swanson, commander of the International Space Station's 40th expedition, will lead a one-off summer school in South Wales for teenagers interested in the sciences.
Mr Swanson, who arrived back on Earth last September after 169 days in space, will give pupils an insight into life in space during a week of activities in July.
The event takes place at Bishop Hedley RC High School, in Merthyr Tydfil, which will host a team of prize-winning scientists, engineers and aerospace experts from universities across the world. And if that wasn't enough, pupils will get the chance to put forward their ideas for an experiment to be carried out on the International Space Station itself.
Supported by the Welsh Government's Schools Challenge Cymru initiative, teams of pupils will devise scientific experiments - with the winning team's concept being built and launched into space for astronauts to conduct on their behalf. Developed by the Penarth-based International Space School Education Trust (ISSET), the aim of the Mission Discovery programme is to promote scientific understanding, along with personal development skills such as leadership and team building.
Bishop Hedley headteacher Maureen Harris said: "We are delighted that ISSET have agreed to run their Mission Discovery programme in South Wales. The programme will provide students from across the region with a unique opportunity to engage in real-life research and gain extensive skills that they can take with them through to their chosen career."
ISSET director Chris Barber said: "Mission Discovery gives ordinary young people the chance to do something extraordinary. We are incredibly pleased to be enabling such amazing opportunities for school students in South Wales.
"We developed the programme to help young people learn how to be scientifically creative and to increase their ability to work together.
"Hopefully the Mission Discovery students can go on to achieve something that is truly out of this world." Jay Honeycutt, a former Nasa Kennedy Space Centre director and contributor to the programme, said: "It is groundbreaking for young people to work with astronauts and leaders from the human space programme while they devise ideas that could be flown on the International Space Station.
"This innovative programme will help develop the 'you can do it' spirit that is so much a part of Nasa and human exploration of space."
Former Nasa astronaut and president of the United Space Alliance Mike McCulley said: "Mission Discovery is, by far, the most comprehensive, interesting and educational endeavour that I have ever been involved with.
"Students will find the experience truly inspirational."
ISSET organises programmes ranging from summer schools to teacher development, space education camps and astronaut leadership expeditions.
The South Wales Mission Dis-covery programme, for pupils in the region aged 14-18, will take place from July 6-10
A thumbs-up for Mission Discovery - astronaut Steve Swanson will lead a programme at Bishop Hedley which will <Ballow Welsh secondary school pupils to work with Nasa astronauts to devise anexperiment to be done in space