The Mighty Sky UK

Lead Research Organisation: University of South Wales
Department Name: Faculty of Computing, Eng. and Science


The overall aim of "The Mighty Sky UK" (TMS UK) proposal is to develop and evaluate a UK version of a successful US STEM education programme that engages students in learning astronomy through music. This will be achieved through production of (UK national curriculum specific versions of) classroom resources based around the 11 songs on "The Mighty Sky" (TMS) album by Beth Nielsen Chapman, combining STEM and music together in a cross-disciplinary project that will mainly target key stages 2 and 3.

The specific project aims of this project are:
1. To develop UK versions of the existing US-based resources, working with STEM and music education specialists.
2. To run at least 4 high profile events at which these resources are used in conjunction with musical performances.
3. To make all resources, and videos of some of the live events, freely available online, through the existing websites of the various partner organisations.
4. To rigorously evaluate the impact and effectiveness of TMS UK, and report these results at relevant conferences and through publications in STEM and music education journals where possible.

TMS UK will therefore run and evaluate at least 2 events at schools and 2 events (to be organised with partner music organisations) that are specifically "non schools" based (i.e. at a music education event, festival etc. - deliberately targeting a diverse audience outside of the traditional school environment), aiming to work with ~600-800 pupils in total, but more importantly establishing the pedagogical requirements of a STEM-music programme that uses the innate excitement and engagement of astronomy and space science, combined with the interactive aspects of music. In addition, TMS UK will deliver a talks and display materials at major UK STEM (e.g. ASE) and music education conferences (again through our partner organisations).

There is clear evidence that interest and motivation can be stimulated by using music in informal and formal education. This project aims to show that carefully crafted and well performed music and teaching materials can generate new and lasting interest in astronomy, and affect student choices at this critical age. Music also attracts interest from parents who might otherwise not take an interest in astronomy and related science. This has been shown in a trial at Callington Community College, and can be repeated around the UK.

The project team is exceptionally experienced in all aspects of the required work that will underpin TMS UK. The preparatory stages of this project have allowed us to bring together a musician of the calibre of Beth Nielsen Chapman (who has a passion for both astronomy and education), experienced people from the music industry such as Trudie Myerscough-Harris at WBBC, and the services of professionals in the National Foundation for Youth Music (YM) and similar bodies. Their skills and experiences, and a shared passion for using music as a means to educate and uplift young pupil from all backgrounds, can be combined to create events of the highest quality that will attract media interest and leave a legacy in those schools/areas, and for other schools to pick up on.

To assess the impact of our project, we will undertake a rigorous evaluation process led by the Institute of Education, London. We will work closely with the relevant educational bodies, in both astronomy/science and music, and obtain detailed feedback from teachers and students who engage with TMS UK. This will allow us to realistically assess the impact of the project, and prepare future funding bids to explore new ideas and develop the successful aspects of TMS UK.

"The Mighty Sky UK" will thus deliver an innovative programme of astronomy-related STEM education through the medium of music, attracting new audiences and engaging young people in an exciting and innovative project that will also help to highlight the UK's involvement in world-leading scientific research.

Planned Impact

Information about the project will be disseminated through a wide variety of networks, including:

ESERO-UK network, Faulkes Telescope Project, RAS (Roche); IoP (e.g. via PTNC), ASE (Roche, Swift);

Within the educational community, we will target a number of key conference events:

STEM education:
A display and seminar will be held at ASE 2015 (Reading) and with Youth Music at a London event (TBD). Notable figures in the music and astronomy world will be invited to these events.

Music education:
A promotion will be made at the Music Mark (The UK Association for Music Education) Annual Conference in November 2014.


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Description Musical performances can be used as an inspirational way to engage school students and the public with astronomy and space
Exploitation Route Future PES funding for similar projects
Sectors Education

Description Articles in ASE Education in Schools journal about the Huddersfield event and the whole The Mighty Sky programme
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Education
Impact Types Cultural,Societal