Astrocampus - An Outreach Facility for Engagement with Schools and the General Public

Lead Research Organisation: University of York
Department Name: Physics


This project aims to use the inspirational nature of space science and astronomy to engage school students and the general public with Physics research. The University of York has a well-equipped 'Astrocampus' for the use of undergraduate students. This project aims to make these facilities accessible to the general public and school students, and to use this exciting site as a backdrop to engage a wide range of people in STFC research.

Astronomy and Space Science are frequently in the media, with British involvement becoming more frequent and high-profile. We hope to capitalise upon this interest to inspire people who might not otherwise engage with Physics. Visitors will be able to use equipment that is completely beyond the resources of most individuals and meet scientists is a very different context to the preconceived 'man in a white coat'.

The project targets two groups in slightly different ways. Public observing evenings will draw the general public and families onto the site, and daytime activities for schools will use astronomy and space as an exciting context for a wide range of activities that will encourage students to remain in Physics.

This project has the potential to have a significant impact on a large number of people. We anticipate that over 2000 people per year will be able to engage with Physics through the Astrocampus. Whilst the stated duration of the project is 18 months, this project is sustainable and can continue to inspire the general public and school students for many years to come.

Planned Impact

We hope that the development of this site may act as a template for other Universities interested in developing outreach space, or making University facilities available to the public. With this in mind, information about the development of the site and its operation will be disseminated to other Universities through the network of Ogden Science Officers, which span Universities across the UK. A report on the Astrocampus will be delivered in the July 2014 meeting of the group. In addition, in utilising the Astrocampus for courses run at the National Science Learning Centre, we are not also introducing teachers to this resource but workshop leaders and observers from a range of backgrounds including other Universities and STFC facilities. Good practice will also be communicated through ESERO and their contacts within ESA.

We are happy to make to make our evaluation data public to enable other groups to set up similar projects, and members of the project team will be easily contacted through the website.

Resources developed for use on the Astrocampus will be disseminated to teachers through the e-library of the National STEM Centre and through courses run in association with the National Science Learning Centre.


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