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Sunspot 2002 Newspaper Competition for Schools


The winners are:

  • 7–11 Years: First: Stone Cross School, Pevensey. Space-Mail, Class 5SH Joint Second: Clayton CE Primary School, Clayton, Bradford. Daily Planet, Class 5F
    Howell's School, Llandaff, Cardiff. The Snowy Times, Year 6 Astronomy Club
    Stone Cross School, Pevensey. The Daily Dazzler, Class 5SH
  • 11–14 Years: First: Heanor Gate School, Heanor, Derby. The Daily Planet Joint Second: St Crispins School, Wokingham. Burning Balls, Class 8Y1
    The Maynard School, Exeter. The Nebula, Karla-Luise Herpoldt
    George Stephenson High School, Newcastle upon Tyne. The Rocket
    Bryn Celynnog Comprehensive School, Pontypridd. Sunspots!
    Highly Commended: English School, Italy. The Global Reflector, Emilie Kristensen
  • 14–16 Years: Highly Commended: Glenlola Collegiate School, Bangor, NI. Glenlola Gazette
  • 16–18 Years: First: St Leonards School, St Andrews. The Spot News
The Original Competition:



Imagine the year is 2010. You start to notice reports in the newspapers and on radio and TV that 10 years have passed since sunspots were last seen on the face of the Sun. At first you don't take much notice but then you realise that sunspots might really matter. Your teachers start to talk about mini ice ages and times past when the River Thames froze over.

We invite groups of pupils to produce a newspaper as if written in 2010. Open to groups of pupils in age ranges 7–11, 11–14, 14–16 and 16–19 years. Committed individuals may also enter.

A winning entry is likely to contain:

  • A good, relevant, witty headline and lead story.
  • Reports on
    • what sunspots are and who spotted them first
    • the effects of previous sunspot cycles on our climate
    • the possible future impact on our climate
    • the possible future impact on our society
    • how observations of the Sun are made (Radio, infra-red, optical, ultraviolet and X-ray).
      (Warning: Never look directly at the Sun. Always project its image onto a screen.)
    • The reactions of people in the street.
    • One or two other events that occurred at that time in the future.
    • An illustration speculating on the nature of the future, colder world.
    • A cartoon about the future climate.
    • An original poem about the future climate.
    • One or two advertisements related to the future climate.
For teachers, our highly successful inter-disciplinary newspaper competition has now been running for five years. It is an excellent opportunity to forge cross- curricular links and a real reason to use the Internet and your library to search for material.

In the class context, the work should be done by groups of pupils - we cannot accept more than two entries per class. However, committed individuals have been successful in previous competitions.

Key points to remember:

  • Lay out your material in the style of a modern newspaper.
  • Each article must have the name of the contributor(s).
  • Cover four sides of A4 if desktop published or four sides of A3 if largely hand-written.
  • Enclose a large stamped addressed envelope for the return of your work.
On the front page of your newspaper you must include:
  • Name, Address, Postcode of your School.
  • Email Address and Telephone Number of your School.
  • Name of your class or group if appropriate.
  • Age Range (7-11, 11-14, 14-16 and 16-19 years).
  • Full name of your teacher (e.g. Ms Jane Smith).
  • A signed declaration by your teacher that
    • the selection of existing material was done by the group or individual and
    • all original material, design and layout was the work of the group or individual.
There will be a range of superb prizes for the winners of each age group. There is no entry form. The decision of the judges is final. The competition is organised by the Education Committee of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Send your entry to arrive by 1st August 2002 to:

Sunspot Competition, Royal Astronomical Society, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London, W1J 0BQ.