Space Made Simple

Lead Research Organisation: Science made simple
Department Name: Head office


The establishment of Space Made Simple (SpMS) will extend a highly successful astronomy/space outreach programme currently only funded for delivery across Wales (AstroCymru), and start to extend the project across the UK. It will also provide some essential support for the (currently unfunded) Faulkes Telescope Project (FTP), and help with the development of an education programme to support the Gaia space mission. STFC funding is essential to allow this extension of the geographical reach of the programme, and the development of crucial aspects of the project such as teacher CPD workshops and new online resources to support schools engagement in STFC-funded projects such as Gaia. It is led by a highly respected and experienced team of astronomy and STEM educators. Here we outline our case for partial support of the key staff members involved in the various educational projects that form our main deliverables, and T&S funding to allow the delivery of workshops outside Wales. Substantial match-funding is available to support any STFC funds awarded.

The AstroCymru project currently provides innovative, high-tech STEM education programmes targeting geographically isolated and socio-economically deprived areas of Wales, funded by the National Science Academy (NSA) of the Welsh Assembly. Following an extremely successful initial 12 months of operations, AstroCymru has engaged with ~26,700 participants - almost 12,000 KS 2-5 children in 58 schools (47 primary, 11 secondary plus 10 SEN units/schools), many schools being visited several times; 14,700 general public in 59 events, and worked with 273 teachers over 10 events across Wales, including 113 in full-day CPD workshops. The project was recently selected for another 3 years of NSA funding (01/04/15 to 31/03/18), demonstrating the impact it has already had in the target area.

Central to the programme will be access to state-of-the-art facilities such as a portable 3D projection system, online simulations and educational resources, and use of research-grade, remotely-controlled telescopes around the globe (FTP). These will be used to deliver exciting and inspirational workshops, talks and shows to a variety of audiences. This combination reinforces the learning objectives of each programme, and will allow delivery of educational shows covering a broad range of STEM topics. The visual impact of high-tech delivery and the engaging subject matter ensures that it captures the attention of learners of all ages and abilities.

SpMS will include school and public events, lectures and workshops, and online resources and facilities based around astronomy and space science. It will directly reach 15,000 students/public over a 2 year period (with even more indirectly via online resources), with a particular initial focus on an expansion of the project into England, to socio-economically deprived and geographically isolated areas. It will tap into current excitement around ESA missions such as Rosetta, Gaia and ExoMars, and NASA missions such as Dawn, Pluto Express and JWST, whilst also targeting manned space flight and the ISS (e.g. Tim Peake's Nov. 2015 Principia flight). A range of educational resources will be produced that will be freely available to all schools across the UK, targeting ages 8-19, engaging them with e.g. the Gaia mission and carrying out follow-up observations of newly-discovered targets using robotic telescopes.

SpMS represents excellent value for money, bringing together our successful, tried-and-tested astronomy-based STEM education programmes under a single organisation, extending the reach of our outreach programmes to cover a wider geographical area, and linking with new research projects.


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Description PhD grant support
Amount £50,000 (GBP)
Organisation Cardiff University 
Department Faulkes Telescope Project
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2016 
End 09/2018
Description Primary Space Day 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact A typical Primary Space Day would engage a whole year group (usually year 5/6 pupils) in a range of workshops selected from a list that we provide - these would include "Is there Anyone out there?", Rocket Workshop, 3D Space, Down2Earth and Mission X. Under the SpMS grant, we expect to run about 20 such 1-day workshops over 2 years.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016