Education and Engagement with Herschel: Unveiling the hidden Universe

Lead Research Organisation: Cardiff University
Department Name: School of Physics and Astronomy


The Herschel Space Observatory was launched in May 2009 by the European Space Agency. The scientific results from the mission so far have been ground-breaking, and this is set to continue until the end of the mission lifetime (late 2012-early 2013) and beyond into the scientific exploitation phase of the mission. The public awareness of Herschel has been increased through the work of the Herschel Outreach Group, coordinated by the Herschel Outreach Officer. This project will continue this effort, with more focus on the educational aspects of the Herschel mission and its results. The appointment of the Herschel Outreach Officer, creating a single point of contact for Herschel and much of the media, has been crucial to the success of the public face of the mission in the UK to date, and this role will be continued for a further two years. The press releases will continue to be coordinated by the Herschel Outreach Officer, with significant input from the Herschel science team and STFC and UKSA press officers. These press releases will continue to be written in collaboration with international partners. This project builds on the success of the previous Herschel outreach activities, with a greater focus on educational aspects. The amazing pictures and fascinating science produced by Herschel make it ideal for inspiring students to study astronomy, science and technology subjects. The Herschel science and technology links well with the school syllabus, and can be used very effectively to educate students about Herschel science topics such as star formation and evolution and the advantages of using other regions of the electromagnetic spectrum besides the visible. The resources will primarily be distributed through teacher CPD sessions, using existing networks to distribute the resources and information. The Herschel Outreach Group will continue to present the Herschel science to schools, societies and the public. These resources will also be freely available on the UK Herschel website. The development of these resources will take place in association with the National Space Centre, who have extensive experience in producing resources for both teachers and students. The resulting resources will be of high quality, at a suitable level, and well linked to the appropriate syllabus. The suitability of the resources will be assessed by consulting teachers who have using them in the classroom, gathering detailed feedback and suggestions for improvements or modifications as appropriate. In addition to educational resources, further Herschel shows aimed at school audiences will be subsidised nationwide. These shows, produced by 'ScienceMadeSimple' through a Science in Society small award, received excellent feedback. The subsidy lowering the cost to the schools, ensuring that the shows are available to a wider audience. Members of the Herschel Outreach Group, as well as other members of the Herschel scientific community, will be shown how to present the show. A further three sets of the resources used in the show will be purchased and distributed around the UK, increasing the area over which the show can be performed. Individual elements of the resources will also be useful for exhibitions and outreach events. The development and maintenance of the increasingly popular UK Herschel website will be continued, as well as continued press releases about the science being performed by this remarkable instrument. Many of the educational resources will be developed into interactive activities which can will be made available online through the website. Many of these resources will be adaptable to other experiments and missions, both current and future, resulting in a lasting legacy for the activities based on Herschel.


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