THE sky was the limit for youngsters who had a stellar time exploring the solar system as part of a scheme encouraging them to study science.

Hundreds of year eight students took part in a planetarium day at Blackburn Central High School (BCHS) where they were invited to discover the far-flung reaches of space in a dome set up in the sports hall.

It was one of a number of events and activities to be held throughout the year following the launch of the Blackburn with Darwen Ogden Trust Schools Partnership.

Teachers from schools across the area including BCHS, Darwen Vale, Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School (QEGS), Pleckgate High School, Witton Park Academy and St Bede’s RC High School have been arranging events that are funded by The Ogden Trust.

The trust was set up by entrepreneur Sir Peter Ogden to promote the teaching and learning of physics.

Extra-curricular activities are arranged for all year groups with trips to Jodrell Bank and the Alston Observatory in the pipeline as well as a Physics Olympics event planned for the summer.

The trust, which also offers undergraduate scholarships, aims to encourage more children, particularly girls, to study physics at GCSE and A-level and to support physics teachers.

Paula Wild, a teacher at QEGs, said the school put on a Physics Olympics with the Hyndburn Partnership which ended last year.

She said: “It is about everybody trying to promote physics.

“As part of the project, we had one sixth form girl who worked on the Black Sea project.

“The student was selected and became part of a research team in Southampton. She was awarded a Gold Crest Award for that work.”

Dan Smith, of Witton Park, said with changes to the curriculum being made the partnership also allowed teachers to share ideas.

“Teachers are working together and it has brought some real benefits,” he said.

“The main focus is on physics but we are also promoting STEM subjects.

“We are trying to run activities for every year group and the events we have run so far have been oversubscribed. The response from students has been very positive. It has created a buzz.”

Janet Pickering, Ogden Trust’s regional representative for the north west, said: “I am delighted this partnership has formed.

“These teachers come to meetings after a day at work - they have ideas and organise things so students can get that experience.

“It will encourage kids to go on and become physicists and the country needs physicists.

“There is such a shortage in the country particularly of girls and pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds.

“The number of girls taking physics is tiny compared to the number of boys.”