Rebecca at NASA

People who know me wouldn’t believe me when I say that I have an interest in space. I have visited the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida and have a done a lot of reading up on shuttle launches etc. So when I saw that the BBC had a new programme about people going through the astronaut selection programme I really was excited and watched in interest. As I was watching, I thought I wish I could have a go. Then I thought actually I could make my own so here is my no budget version of the BBC’s astronaut programme.

BBC Astronauts Do you have what it takes image of the contestants in blue uniform

Firstly a little bit about me, I am terrible at maths (I had to retake my GCSE!) I do have a degree in Geography (2:1) and I work in Marketing. So in this case I would already not be accepted onto the astronaut programme.

Hovering an helicopter

Since I have no budget (and I don’t think anyone would let me lose near one) I found an online game! I did quite well to be fair winching all the animals and people.

Reciting all the numbers

For this I decided to ask my partner to call out long string numbers that I didn’t know beforehand and stand up and down on a step on the stairs.

I did terrible I got the four digit number (I thought I’d better have a test try) but after five I failed miserably. I am not surprised really since numbers are not my strong point.

Staying enclosed in a small space for 20 minutes

For this I decided to shut myself in my downstairs cupboard amongst the skis and shoes. I came out at 16 minutes and 55 seconds and was really chuffed with that. I didn’t count in my head or anything like that I just thought about the latest book I had just finished and what I was having for tea and things like that. I didn’t feel claustrophobic.

Putting a syringe in my arm and drawing blood

I did draw the line at drawing my own blood! So I found this awesome game online where it was like operation, so I decided to play it. I played the heart surgery game and it was quite cute.

Saying one thing I regret

This was something I found hard and didn’t want to film it. I guess my biggest regret (which is nothing really in the grand scheme of things) was not picking the right A-Levels.

The Beep Test

One challenge I did at school! I measured out my garden and it was 10m long. I thought I may have a good chance at this as I am fairly fit. However I was awful, I only managed to get to level… 2.2!

I hope you enjoyed reading my blog on the first episode of the Astronauts: Do you have what it takes programme. I am looking forward to the second one. What did you think of the programme?

 

As part of BBC Generation 2015, I had to go through an interview process to be one of the 200 young people chosen. I had never been to essentially an ‘audition’ before so thought as Generation 2015 is coming to an end. I would talk about how I got to be part of it.

The Application

Firstly I had to fill out the application form. I found out about the opportunity on Twitter but saw it advertised on the BBC news website as well. The application form took forever it was about four pages long I think. I remembered the form being a PDF one and being a nightmare to fill out because of the formatting. I emailed it off and played the waiting game.

I got a phone call a few weeks later inviting me to audition. As I live in Stoke- on- Trent but originally come from Lincolnshire the BBC in Hull were keen for me to audition there. But in the case couldn’t get there gave me the option of auditioning in Birmingham and Manchester. As I happened to be on jury service at the time all of the auditions were taking place I couldn’t commit to a day. Manchester was the first audition on the list and when I found out I wasn’t going to be in court that day I headed down to Media City.

The Day
When I arrived in the room I had my ‘game face’ on as you would call it. There were about 20 young people in total all around this table and I knew that I had to say enough that I was remembered but not be too domineering. Dave Howard who is managing BBC Generation 2015 made us all at ease really quickly (it’s his job as a journalist to make people feel at ease!). Firstly he went round the table giving our name, age, occupation and if we were going to vote and if so who we were going to vote for. After this, we gave our opinions on a variety of topics ranging from immigration to NHS to education.

After lunch, there was a recording into a camera piece. I have never really spoken into a camera before so wasn’t sure what to expect but knew I had to perform well. My piece you can see in my Generation2015 profile here. I did this in one take and was pretty chuffed about that as most people had to do theirs more than once. We also helped Radio 5 live with their piece called ‘My first election as…’ So we spoke into an iPad about what it is our first election as. I said it will be my first election as a full-time worker 😀

Afterwards, Dave took a head shot photograph of us and explained that we had done well but not all of us would be picked as he had to allow for political nonpartiality (a lot of people in my cohort supported one political party) he let us know when we would hear from him and then we headed home!

A few weeks later I hadn’t heard anything back and I noticed that some people from the Manchester audition had already done some radio work with the BBC. I got an email from the BBC asking for more people to get involved (I don’t think that email was meant for me) so I emailed back saying that I was disappointed that I hadn’t heard that I had been rejected considering I went to the interview and only found out because I saw people from my cohort doing some pieces. Dave emailed back saying that they were going to make a final decision in a few weeks and that some people were needed quicker than expected. Two weeks later I got a phone call telling me that I had got in!

What did I think of the interview?
The process was what I thought it would be like. I was pleased with my own interview performance (I obviously did enough to get chosen!) but was amazed at the amount of stuff and experiences that the other young people had done. Whether that was working at a soup kitchen or setting up their own business or gone through something horrific in their life and come out the other side stronger.  As I was one of three people who worked full time and one of the oldest auditionees there, I knew that would put me at an advantage because the others were mainly students. I also did my camera piece in one take which I thought would have helped as well. It was tiring speaking about politics for six hours straight but I enjoyed the day and got chosen so am happy.

*This post is my opinion only and is not endorsed by BBC Generation 2015 
    

The other night as part of the opportunities BBC Generation 2015 have given to me, I managed to get a ticket to be part of the Newsbeat: The Election Debates at the University of Birmingham.

To get a ticket for the event I first had to answer a few questions over the phone regarding my stances on education, health and immigration. As these were the topics being discussed on the night and to ensure there was a fair cross section of opinions. When I turned up at Birmingham and registered we were split into groups (I think to manage the audience rather than our political preferences). A very friendly runner got us warmed up by asking what we wanted to ask the political representatives. If someone said a very good question the runner would go ”I want you to ask that later”. That didn’t mean the questions were decided there and then it was so there was at least a bank of questions ready to either kick off or steer the debate once we were live on air.

The set

The Great Hall looking very great

When we entered the Great Hall at around 8pm, which was one hour before filming, the seating were split into four sections and each group sat in their section. We started with a rehearsal where we practised the first part where the three 18- 25’s year old’s stood up and introduced themselves and the first topic, which was immigration. It was so that we got comfortable with the format of the show and to help us feel more confident in putting our hand up. Each time we practised different people asked different questions and there wasn’t one person (apart from the first person who started the immigration debate) that was guaranteed to get there question asked.

All getting seated

After practising the introduction three times a quick toilet break entailed then with ten minutes to go the representatives which were Emma Reynolds for Labour, Paul Uppal for the Conservatives, Amelia Womack representing the Green Party, Norman Lamb for the Liberal Democrats and Steven Woolfe of UKIP entered. Then the filming started and off we went. If we wanted to ask a question we had to put our hand up where the runner would run over and whisper the question to him. This was so the runner could make a decision if my question was appropriate based on: the topics being discussed, if a similar question hadn’t already been asked or if the question was just too long. He would then give the mic. Even that was not a guarantee that my question would be asked. It would be up to Chris to ask me my question.

Chris Smith greeting Steven Woolfe

My opinions of the night was mainly positive, I asked a question (51 minutes 14 seconds in if you are interested) which I am so glad I did as it was just the icing on the cake. I didn’t think there was much debate per say but some good questions and statements were made. Such as the young woman who spoke passionately about her friend who had committed suicide and the woman I sat next to who was speaking about her experiences with anxiety who stood up and spoke on live TV.

I think it is good that there are these programmes for young people as the other main televised debates can be a bit dry, with people similar in my age asking questions it is more relatable. Also Newsbeat were very keen for us to get involved on social media even allowing us to tweet and post whilst we were on air. As social media is an important outlet for young people these days it shows how Newsbeat understand their target market well.

Once the broadcast was done I managed to get a selfie with Chris Smith who was lovely and then I ran to catch my train home.

Me asking my question on the telly
Selfie time

I just want to say thanks to the Newsbeat crew, BBC Generation 2015 and that the BBC have not asked me to write this post, it is completely 100% my opinion.

Did you watch the debate? If so what did you think? Do you think young people need political programmes aimed specifically for them?

The ones I have read however have been a real mixture of good and bad. As you will see below:

Wild- Cheryl Strayed
Wild tells the story of Cheryl Strayed a woman who after her mother died from cancer decided to trek the Pacific Coast Trail (PCT) to help find herself. Cheryl had no prior hiking experience and the PCT trail is one of the hardest in America. 
Therefore for Cheryl to get through the trail meant that anything is possible.  Her story was raw and didn’t hold back. The descriptions of the wildlife she walked through made me want to go and experience the PCT for myself and by understanding her life story you can see why she made the mistakes she did. 
Since I Don’t Have You – Louise Candlish
Possibly the worst book I have read in a while. This book was so bad I have had to refer back to it to remember the main character’s name!  Rachel makes a pact with two of her best friends Jenny and Marial that each other would look after children if anything happened to each other. Fast forward a few years the children are six and at school. One day Rachel’s child goes on a school trip and dies in a minibus crash. 
Therefore to escape Rachel decides to fly to Santorina (she has always been interested in Santorina because her mother was born there). To keep her pact she decides to hire a private investigator (creepy I know!) to check up on her friends and their children. The book was just boring I wasn’t interested in the descriptions of Greece, I found the whole private investigator thing really didn’t work and the way it was written, it was a drag to get through. I didn’t even finish the book. One for the Donation box!

The Children’s Act- Ian McEwan
This book follows a QC who has to make a difficult decision regarding a religious woman and son’s young life. The book was better then I thought it would be. Written in Ian McEwan’s signature style where you pretty much have to concentrate through the entire book ( it’s not a light read!) it delivers a book that is a mixture of religion, love and morals.

Tales From The Ringroad- BBC

Ok it’s not a book it is a radio series on BBC Radio 4. Essentially a different ringroad in the country is chosen each week and several people tell their story which has a connection with the ringroad.

One episode was about the ringroad in Coventry. A man who was driving on the road one night got hit by a car who was driving in the opposite direction. Another story based in Wolverhampton was about a man who lived on the ringroad in a tent. It’s one to listen when you are on the commute home.  It does sound a bit out there (stay with me on this!) but it isn’t that bad and is quite interesting. If all else fails the soothing voice will put you to sleep.