25 September 2019

In our second Nicholls lecture of the academic year, we welcomed Dr Jaclyn Bell of Imperial College London, to give a talk on her current journey to become an astronaut and the importance of STEM subjects. 

By David Coyne, Upper Sixth Student
On the 19th September, we were visited by Dr Jaclyn Bell of Imperial College London, to give a talk on her current journey to become an astronaut.  She was thoroughly engaging and an inspiration to all the students planning to move into STEM subjects at university.
Born in Liverpool and being the first in her family to attend university, she quickly rose to the top and obtained an academic STEM scholarship for three consecutive years at her university.  She graduated with a degree in Mathematics, and pursued a career in research; however, she always kept her childhood dream of becoming an astronaut.
Dr Bell applied for the BBC Two - Astronauts: Do You Have What It Takes? – and surprised herself by making it to the top twelve contestants. She told the Sixth Form of her adventures and her thoughts behind the scenes of the camera.  At one point, she asked students to stand up and complete one of the tasks she had been made to do on the show – this interaction was well received!

During her lecture, Dr Bell explained how she came to the task of being submerged. At school, Dr Bell had never been taught how to swim and so being inverted in a helicopter and pushed underwater was an educational, if entirely traumatic, experience for her. Despite nearly going into cardiac arrest at one point, she eventually made it through to the next task.  Unfortunately, shortly afterwards Dr Bell was eliminated due to the necessity to swim for the next task.
After the show was aired, she received much support and sympathy, to the point that many swimming schools offered to teach her for free.  This was, as the Astronaut Chris Hadfield had told her, the only thing stopping her from becoming an astronaut. Suffice to say, she can now swim and is currently training to scuba-dive.
Aside from her ambitions as an astronaut, Dr Bell now works with many charities to get women and those from deprived areas into STEM subjects.  She also is the coach of her University Cheerleading team and is currently learning Russian for her next chance to become an astronaut.
To conclude, her talk was thoroughly enjoyable and inspiring to all who heard it.  We all wish Dr Bell the best in her future endeavours and hope to one day see her in the skies.

The Nicholls Lecture Series is part of Birkenhead School's 'Inspiring Talks Series' to read more articles on the other guests that we have welcomed to the School, please click here.


Seniors & Sixth Form Open Evening - Thursday 3rd October

To find out about the opportunities available in Seniors and Sixth Form, please come to our Seniors & Sixth Form Open Evening that is taking place on Thursday 3rd October from 5.30pm - 8.30pm. Further information is available online or alternatively by contacting Ms Julie Hopper, Seniors Admissions.

Admissions Contact Information

Seniors Admissions
Ms Julie Hopper
PA to the Headmaster​
0151 651 3009