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Henrietta Leavitt

Great Torrington School was proud to host Links to Life visit on Friday 15th October 2021 to learn about the life and work of little known, yet hugely significant Henrietta Leavitt.

The day was designed to encourage more young people to consider a future in science and learn about the history of our understanding of the cosmic distance scale beginning with an overview of the theories of Ptolemy and Copernicus, the work of Kepler and Newton, Leavitt, Hertzsprung and Hubble.


The day included a live biographic performance by three actors and science leader, Alice Mills (co-director of Exeter Science Centre) telling of the life of Henrietta Leavitt (1868-1921). They also practiced GCSE Maths skills - trigonometry, algebra, use of a calculator, and similar triangles. They learned how to carry out calculations involving distances determined by the analysis of trigonometric parallax and plot some of Leavitt’s original data to determine the period-luminosity relationship.


For the final part of the day, we were joined by a visiting female STEM professional who talked about her work and joined in discussions.


The entire day was enjoyed by everyone who took part with some great feedback received by our young people who were inspired by the day.

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