Stirling High School to Study Mars

On Monday 26th November at 8:00pm our time, the NASA InSight lander safely touched down on Mars after a journey of over 300 million miles taking seven months. Its mission:  to study the interior of Mars. Seismometers will detect and record marsquakes, a heat probe will take Mars’ internal temperature, and a radio system will measure how the Red Planet wobbles.

In a few months time Stirling High School will be able to receive and analyse seismic data once the initial checks are made and the seismometer installed on the planet’s surface. Resources produced by the British Geological Survey in collaboration with the National Space Academy will be used by pupils to gain a better understanding of Mars and why it is now a desert planet with only a thin atmosphere.

S3 pupils taking physics at Stirling High School already learn about seismology (the study of earthquakes) and carry out a Mission to Mars. Physics teacher and Lead Educator with the National Space Academy, Dr Andrew McDonald said that “… having access to actual seismic data from Mars is not something that happens everyday and being involved in NASA InSIght and the MarsQuakes project adds interest and excitement. It is a fantastic opportunity and will help  pupils to develop a better understanding of the solar system and space science.”

Notes to editors

The MarsQuake project provides a set of teaching resources and classroom activities that can use real data and images sent back from the 2018 NASA InSight mission to Mars. The activities relating to MarsQuake are online at and involve a mixture of real data from Mars and simple classroom simulations.

The MarsQuake education project is a UK Space Agency-funded initiative led the British Geological Survey with partners from the National Space Academy, University of Leicester and University of Bristol. The project will develop a set of classroom activities and learning resources to support the mission.

Find out more on BGS’s website:

 About the BGS

The British Geological Survey (BGS), a component body of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), is the nation’s principal supplier of objective, impartial and up-to-date geological expertise and information for decision making for governmental, commercial and individual users. The BGS maintains and develops the nation’s understanding of its geology to improve policy making, enhance national wealth and reduce risk. It also collaborates with the national and international scientific community in carrying out research in strategic areas, including energy and natural resources, our vulnerability to environmental change and hazards, and our general knowledge of the Earth system.

More about the BGS can be found at

About the National Space Academy

Expert teachers engaging young people with physics, chemistry, biology and maths using the inspirational context of space, and facilitating pathways into space sector careers by working with industry and academia.

We work with secondary level teachers and their students to boost understanding, attainment and enjoyment in STEM subjects using space contexts as a novel approach to tackling the curriculum. Our student masterclasses can be tailored to support all age groups and abilities, with a key focus on 11 to 19 year olds. We work with GCSE, A Level, Scottish Standards and Highers and International Baccalaureate curricula within the UK and other national curricula overseas. Developing subject knowledge and understanding with memorable hands on activities is a mainstay of our student programmes.

We also train teachers, with our experienced team of Lead Educators able to support subject knowledge enhancement, confidence building, and curriculum development – from one day courses for individual teachers to full consultancy for new schools looking to develop an exciting STEM offer. Supporting non-specialist physics teachers is our speciality.

As well as supporting schools, we work closely with industry and academia in the space sector to support them in finding and developing the next generations of talent that they need so that the sector can continue to grow. We share direct messages from the sector on careers pathways with young people through careers conferences and talks, and broker links for those in industry seeking to engage directly with schools and young people.

 Christmas Concert

This year’s annual Christmas Concert will take place on Monday 17th December in the Church of The Holy Rude at 7pm.  The concert will feature various musical groups including the Stirling High School Choir, Orchestra and Rhythm and Soul Band. Please come and join us for an evening of quality music in the beautiful setting of the oldest church in Stirling. Tickets are available from the school office now (£5 adult and £3 concession).

Dates for the Diary

Monday 3rd December – Friday 14th December – S4 Prelims

Thursday 6th December – Senior Dance @ Albert Hall – evening

Monday 18th December – Christmas Concert at the Church of the Holy Rude – 7pm

Tuesday 19th December – S1/2 Christmas Dance – tbc

Wednesday 20th December – S3/4 Christmas Dance – tbc

Friday 21st December – End of Term (school closes at 1.10pm)

Monday 7th January – Staff and Pupils return – 8.40am

Wednesday 9th January – Tuesday 22nd January – S5/6 prelims

Friday 1st February – S3 girls & boys Dip/Tet/Polio/MenCWY immunisations + catchups

Friday 1st March – S1&S2 girls HPV + catchups for both HPV & MMR immunisations

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