Space Science for All

Lead Research Organisation: Techniquest
Department Name: Education


The aim of this project is to build on the success of Techniquest's previous STFC small awards and meet a current gap in provision creating an opportunity for Space Science for All. This project will focus on the pivotal Rosetta and Gaia missions, following the STFC's identification of the need to develop public communication resources around these. Techniquest is seeking part-funding from STFC to develop and deliver a range of innovative programmes to communicate current STFC research to target the following priority audiences:
1. Foundation Phase pupils (3-7 year olds)
2. Key Stage 2 pupils (7-11 year olds)
3. Key Stage 3 pupils (11-14 year olds)
4. Key Stage 4 pupils (14-16 year old pupils)
5. Public audiences.

To overcome geographic and socio-economic barriers, the programmes will be developed as outreach projects, to be delivered through Techniquest's All Wales Strategy (AWS) directly to audiences across Wales. Through this, Techniquest works with partners who deliver to local schools, and last year reached 345,000 people, of which 115,000 were school audiences. These programmes will be delivered in their own schools and communities, and free of charge. The planetarium programmes will be delivered in a mobile digital planetarium acquired as part of this project.

It is anticipated that the project will achieve the following objectives:
1. To develop immersive and stimulating full-dome digital planetarium programmes for Foundation Phase pupils, Key Stage 2 pupils and Key Stage 4 pupils to facilitate their understanding of astronomy.
2. To develop outreach workshops for Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4, as part of Techniquest's wider strategy to encourage young people, particularly girls, to engage in and be motivated by Physics.
3. To develop an immersive and engaging public planetarium programme on meteorites and the possible causes of the extinction of the dinosaurs, linking with the previous STFC-funded project, Back Down to Earth.
4. To develop school programmes that support both the National Curriculum for Wales and the National Curriculum for England, enabling the programmes to be disseminated to as many organisations as possible.
5. To develop supporting online resources for all programmes and make them freely available for widespread use through the National STEM library, UK Space Agency and ESERO UK website in York.
6. To develop and deliver the programmes and all associated resources in both English and Welsh.
7. To purchase a mobile digital planetarium and dome to enable the programmes to be delivered across Wales through outreach.
8. To target delivery to schools located in the most disadvantaged communities in Wales.
9. To motivate and inspire up to 5,000 school pupils within the first year of delivery to engage with astronomy, cosmology and current STFC research, with an aim of reaching up to 25,000 pupils over the next five years depending on the securing of further funding.
10. To inspire up to 3,650 public visitors in the first year of delivery to engage with astronomy, cosmology and current STFC research, with the aim of reaching up to 18,000 people over the next five years, depending on the securing of further funding.
11. To promote STEM and STEM careers, to female pupils in particular, through the use of female scientists and engineers as positive role models.
12. To disseminate the programmes to other organisations across Wales and the UK.

There are three elements to this project: the development of programmes and purchase of a mobile planetarium funded by STFC, the development of programmes funded by Techniquest, and the delivery of all programmes to be funded by STFC. In the delivery of each programme, Techniquest's presenters will pose open-ended, exploratory questions to the audience. All programmes will focus on STFC-funded research and be developed using high quality music, graphics and narration. All programmes will be supported by online resources.


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Description The show increased students understanding about current research. 41.3% of students stated that the show had "definitely" helped them to understand more about the research being carried out. A further 46.4% of students rated their increased understanding as 4 out of 5. This gave a total of 87.7%.
Of the 1,017 students, 41.9% reported that, as a result of watching the show, they would "definitely" like to know more about the topic. An additional 46.5% of students reported that their increased interest was 4 out of 5, giving a total of 88.4%.
The majority of students (more than 80%) learnt from the audio-visual element of the programme, the show developed by Techniquest. The life cycle of stars was the most frequently reported item learnt from the show, with 29.1% of students referring to this in their response. Students commented that they learnt "what happens when a star dies." They also learnt that "stars are brightest when they are young," and that "the stars turn red when cooling down." 19.6% reported that they had learnt "more about galaxies," including "that our galaxy might collide with another galaxy," and that "galaxies can absorb other galaxies." These students also learnt that "There are 280 billion stars in the Milky Way," and that "there are galaxies that we don't even know about." One student commented, "There are more galaxies that I thought there were."
Almost a fifth of students (18.2%) commented that they had learnt from the star tour that follows the audio-visual presentation. These students learnt "that the constellations have stories behind them," and that there are "88 constellations in our sky." Students also learnt "the names of some of the stars and constellations," with one student adding, "The stars are still there in the day. You just can't see them."
Through both the presentation and the star tour, 14.5% of students stated that they had learnt "more about our solar system." These students learnt facts relating to specific planets, such as, "how many moon Jupiter has," and "which planet is the hottest - Venus." Students learnt more general facts, with students commenting, "I learnt about how the rings around certain planets are formed," and "I learnt about the atmosphere on planets." These students also learnt about our own planet, "The earth is 4 billion years old." A further 3.3% of students learnt about the history of our planet, "All the countries were once one big one, called Pangaea." In addition to this, 8.3% of students stated that they had learnt about the Sun. They learnt "that the Sun is 92 million miles away," and "the Sun is considered a star." Students also learnt about the life cycle of the Sun, stating that they learnt that "the Sun will end in 4 to 5 billion years," and that "the Sun is going to be a black dwarf."
Exploitation Route The funding allowed Techniquest to offer the show to secondary schools disadvantaged areas that would not be in a financial position to bring their students to Techniquest to see the show in the planetarium. STFC funding paid for a full dome mobile planetarium and subsided the free outreach that had such positive results with the schools/teachers and pupils.
Sectors Education,Government, Democracy and Justice