Rosetta Digital Outreach Project

Lead Research Organisation: National Maritime Museum
Department Name: Grants Administration


The Royal Observatory Greenwich is one of the UK's leading centres for promoting and explaining astronomy to the public, schools and the media. The Observatory has an international reputation and receives over 800,000 visitors per year, with 30,000 school pupils and 4,500 teachers attending its curriculum-linked astronomy workshops and many more benefitting from the expertise of the astronomy education team via an ever-growing suite of online schools resources.

Video content forms an important component in these resources and recently we have formed a highly successful partnership with acclaimed London-based animation company Beakus. Together we have produced several short videos on topics such as 'How Big is the Universe?', 'What is inside a Black Hole?' and 'How do we know how old The Sun is?' These have proved extremely successful, becoming viral hits on digital and social media, reaching 700,000 people and winning awards and plaudits from the worlds of art and design as well as the science education community. The videos mix a lively and contemporary style of animation and storytelling with in-depth science - a combination that has proved highly popular and effective.

The aim of the project proposed here is for us create two new videos promoting the European Space Agency's Rosetta mission, and the involvement of STFC-funded scientists, to add to our existing suite of digital resources. These videos would not only help to engage the public (particularly secondary school age) with the cutting edge science behind the mission but also with some of the scientists that do it in the UK and beyond. This would complement and enhance the STFC-funded work of the "Rosetta in the UK" website hosted by the Open University, adding to their suite of public, schools and media resources. We note that video content of this style and quality is currently lacking from the suite of Rosetta resources. (By contrast the "Gaia in the UK" website hosted by the University of Cambridge features several excellent videos of this type - we intend to ensure that Rosetta is equally well-served.)

Our focus is always first and foremost on the science; the members of our teachers' forum are very vocal in telling us that they come to us for expertise and knowledge. We also feel it is incredibly important to promote the people in science too, thereby raising awareness of the varied careers available to those that go into the STEM world of work.

We make a very conscious effort to show how astronomy is inclusive and something to be embraced and not to be feared or intimidated by. When working on this project we would continue with this approach by involving a combination of female and male project partners from a variety of astronomy careers around the UK. They would create, deliver and present the films as is usual in our team which we feel helps to show the friendlier and more easily accessible side of science. We feel that working in this way and highlighting the diversity of the STEM workforce also contributes to re-addressing the gender imbalance by supplying real-life male and female role models.

Over the past two years at the Royal Observatory Greenwich we have worked extensively on our digital offer, particularly on easily-sharable and engaging video content. By encouraging and enabling people to share content quickly through social media we increase the likelihood of engaging non-typical audiences that would not usually seek out content like ours.

Planned Impact

As discussed in the aims section, this project centres around raising awareness of specific missions, scientific content, people and careers within STEM. The ROG were one of the 10 UK centres to be part of phase one of the STFC funded 'Explore Your Universe' project. This is now in its second phase with another 10 centres. This project has strengthened the links made by ASDC between centres to share content and best practice. The ASDC have been very supportive and encouraging about us creating new content that can be shared with the other centres in the network (see attached letter of support), particularly up to the minute directly linked video content. Therefore we would strongly encourage other centres in the network to use the content within their sessions. We would also share all evaluation data and methods of best practice for working on projects like this readily.

This project would also allow us to continue to develop how we work with researchers in the STEM industry. It will provide the opportunity to create links with the Rosetta UK team, thus allowing our audiences the opportunity to learn more about the world of research.

Tracking videos that you want to go viral can become incredibly difficult. However, we have found that the following allows us to identify as much as possible how many people are watching the videos from a formal learning audience and how many come from a general public audience.

1. Formal learning - we always promote these videos through Vimeo. This is a hub for high quality video content. If we are promoting school content through social media channels we always use vimeo links and #rogschools.

2. General public - we always use youtube for this audience. Youtube is so well established and incredibly popular with videos so easily shared that it would be foolish to try to push people through any other platform.

All videos would be branded with the Royal Observatory Greenwich, STFC and Open University branding to promote the collaboration.


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Description Our objectives were defined and met as follows:

1. Objective - to create a networked working group between the Rosetta UK group and Royal Observatory Greenwich education team that would continue to interact even after the videos were created.

The members of the working group are still in contact and the group has actually extended to include the European Space Agency. ESA contacted us about the videos and asked us to write a blog post showing how they were created. This blog can be found here -

2. Objective - complement the STFC-funded work of the "Rosetta In The UK" website by helping to promote the Rosetta mission and the contributions of UK scientists, engineers and universities.

3. Objective - create two videos, each approximately 2 minutes long. One based around what asteroids, comets and meteors are and their differences and the other on the Rosetta Mission.

The two videos have now been produced and were launched during International Space Week in October 2015. Working more closely with ESA after the videos were launched allowed us to engage with even more of the scientists working on the projects we were promoting and to gather their very positive feedback too.

4. Objective - promote the videos through the ROG channels, reaching 1000 views per video through school audiences (Vimeo channel) and 2000 views per video for the public (Youtube and any other posts through other channels) after 3 months.

The response to the videos has been amazing. They were initially posted on just our Vimeo channel but we then had multiple requests for them to be hosted on other channels, websites and even shown at some film festivals.

Our targets have been vastly exceeded in the first 4 months as shown below:

Formal learning audience views through the ROG Vimeo account = 62,900
Royal Observatory Greenwich Youtube channel views = 4,820
Views from other channels = 29,535

The videos have of course been embedded on various other websites and channels, many of which we are unable to access the viewing statistics of the pages.

5. Objective - create associated digital resources to accompany each video.

A number of resource have been created in collaboration with the teacher forum for the videos. They are now available on the ROG website here:

6. Objective - distribute the videos and resources to the 19 other science centres involved in the STFC funded project with the ASDC 'Explore Your Universe'.

The videos were distributed among our peers and the response was again fantastic and overwhelmingly positive. The videos are available for any of the centres to embed into their workshops and shows and use as they feel appropriate.

7. Objective - obtain feedback from the teachers forum, students and other science centres about the videos and resources that can be shared with STFC and other public engagement networks to help establish a model of best practice for developing this type of content.

General surface level comments have been collected through Vimeo and other channels as shown below -

'Well done! Education meets well-executed and artful'

'I wish all science was taught like this! (sigh)'

'Amazing.Very good work, fun ,clear... just wow guys'

More specific and detailed feedback will be collected from our teacher forum in March 2016 about how they have been using the videos and resources together in school. This information can be shared with STFC if it would be found useful.
Exploitation Route The process of creating these two videos and their associated resources has helped us to formalise a method of best practice for collaborative digital projects. This not only refers to working with an external digital agency but also with academics and other public outreach organisations too. We will continue to share and advise on this topic to assist anyone else in the sector on running a similar project.
Sectors Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

Description Since this project ended we have moved on to a new projects and have been using the method and processes we created for the STFC project as a guide. We are also hoping to use this project as inspiration for talks and conference sessions where we can share what we have learned with others in our sector.
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural