The Earth and Sky Tour: Building capacity for hyperlocal STEM engagement with astronomy at hubs in England and Wales

Lead Research Organisation: University of Greenwich
Department Name: Creative Prof. & Digital Arts, FACH

Abstract

Since 2015, SMASHfestUK has developed from a small local STEM festival in SE London, to a programme of year-round interactive engagements. For 2017/18 we have received funding (UK Space Agency and Royal Academy of Engineering) to pilot activities outside London in other underserved communities.
We are partnering with Swansea Science Festival/University to create a SMASHfestUK in Neath - a post-industrial mining town in the South Wales valleys.

Neath is a Communities First area (Welsh Government) and a key target area for the South West Wales Reaching Wider partnership, (Swansea University lead), to engage people who will be unlikely to engage with the main festival.

We wish to "capacity build" there; creating a team of local leaders, engaged researchers, activists and young explainers and will train them in the delivery of events previously run in London, ("asteroid," "solar storm" and "supervolcano").

RAE/UKSA funding covers some production costs of the Earth and Sky Tour but excludes the STFC-lead 'Young Explainer' (YE) programme, (successfully piloted in 2016 with 2 of that cohort now studying physics BSc. Our next step for this programme; 'Young Innovators'.) and capacity building within new communities.

YI's recruited from schools in Neath will work on 'Space Camp', exploring the science of space exploration & how we populate space & other planets and rebuild if a disaster means leaving Earth. Activities will include:

Asteroid exhibition (Partner: Royal Observatory Greenwich)
How to make asteroids (workshops)
Solar Stargazing with local astronomers
Build a rocket using fizzy drinks bottles.
Building communications system (crystal radios, optic fibre morse code).
Navigation (building and using sextants, creating earth and sky maps).
Air and water filtering and recycling.
Design & engineer a spaceport/satellite/space habitat/space debris capture systems.

Where the YE programme is focuses on education & facilitation of events, YIs will work on co-creating a major interactive 'Living in Space' installation for SMASHfestUK 2018.

"Living in Space" will begin in Neath, then connect YIs from Wales with those from London through joint workshops supported by Middlesex University Department of Design Engineering & Mathematics, Swansea University, University of Greenwich Creative Industries, the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Deptford Green School D&T Department & Dominic Wilcox's Young Inventors programme. MDXDEM & Greenwich will lead on direct development, manifestation & building of their space inventions with the YIs. Swansea University will consult on science & engineering, as will Rutherford Appleton Lab.

Deptford Green School D&T students will partner with YIs, MDXDEM undergraduate students & professional scientists & engineers, to design & develop elements of "Living in Space". Dominic Wilcox's Young Inventors programme will partner & work with design ideas & inventions to feed into the development thinking, from participating primary schools. As part of the YI scheme, we'll pilot CREST certification, to ensure quality & give external validation to the YIs experiences. The programme will create a unique technical & creative ecology of STEM activists, ranging from primary school, through secondary, post-secondary, university & through to senior professional, working on a unique space-focussed, STEM public engagement project with an overarching narrative.

This rolling out of the SMASHfestUK engagement model (narrative-lead & inquiry driven, designed to increase science capital in its audience) outside London to test its robustness, & the development of the YE model to "Young Innovators, is the last element of evidence gathering in our present phase. If evidence supports this work, we will be building on this by applying for larger grant funding (large awards from STFC, Big Lottery, Wellcome Trust Society Award) for 2018 onwards in order to become sustainable long term.

Planned Impact

As with the SMASHfestUK pilot event, everything we do is catalogued and recorded and will be uploaded onto the SMAShfestUK website. All learning materials will be distributed free of charge to schools and through our extensive social media networks. We are members of several science communications organisations and this will also be a distribution route for any educational resources and materials.

All learning materials created and produced as part of SMASHfestUK are distributed freely to schools and teachers.

SMASHfestUK was the winner of the NCCPE ENGAGE award for STEM in November 2016 and since then we have been building partnerships with many organisations in order to build capacity for other local communities to create SMASHfestUK activities in their own areas. As part of this we are creating "handbooks" documenting the practical aspects of how we have put on previous festivals in London (asteroid, solar storm and supervolcano)

The outputs of the public engagement grants include the production of papers for peer reviewed journals in the realm of public engagement and science communication and science education. SMASHfestUK methodology has already been delivered at several academic conferences

We are also creating a published resource for schools and families and universities around science and engineering, working with ten engineers from the Royal Academy of Engineering Ingenious Scheme. The resource will detail routes into science and engineering careers and study, case studies, contacts and practical demonstrations and experiments and activities for use by facilitators, teachers and scientists carrying out public engagement, in the classroom and/or at other events.

We will also be setting up a dedicated Vimeo and Youtube channel for dissemination of information and gathering of submissions for co-created community and collaborative projects related to the science and engineering contained in SMASHfestUK.

SMASHfestUK is now entering its third year we have accumulated 3 themes worth of teaching, learning, interactive games and experiments each relating to a different theme (asteroid, solar storm, volcano). We are in the process of assimilating the information and instructions we have produced during this time into an online resource for project based teaching and learning, and also for dissemination of a "manual" so that other universities and organisations can develop and deliver SMASHfestUK experiences in their own local communities.
 
Description 1. Engagement and representation:

Around 3526 visitors attended the SMASHFestUK "Living in Space" 2018 in Deptford. Estimated numbers for the 5 pop-up festivals were around 10200, visitors, including schools outreach programmes. Participants were representative of the community areas in which the events took place - communities and demographics highlighted as being underrepresented in STEM education and careers.

2. Co-design and training:

The project engaged 29 researchers, of whom 50% were female and 60% BAME who helped develop, co-design and deliver the activities. 29 Young explainers (15-18 year olds) from BME and/or disadvantaged areas were recruited for the Earth and Sky Tour from local schools, colleges and youth groups and trained in STEM skills, public engagement and safeguarding.

3. Development of effective asymmetric collaboration networks:

3276 children were engaged in SMASHfestUK outreach workshops across 12 primary schools in the Lewisham and Deptford areas, feeding in ideas and content for the events. Adult volunteering was inclusive, including SEN community group "Heart and Soul" and multiple STEM ambassadors in areas and communities local to each of the pop-up festivals. 12 universities were involved in planning and delivering STEM engagement (Middlesex, Greenwich, Goldsmiths, OU, UCL, Sheffield, Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Imperial, The University of South Wales, Cardiff University, Swansea University ) 5 museums contributed to the event (National Maritime, Royal Observatory, Horniman, Natural History Museum and National Waterside Museum, Wales)

4. The more immersive, narratively coherent and theatrical experiences were reported as most engaging (see evaluations). This has led to the development of a STFC 'Nucleus Award' - 'Space Plague', focussing on developing fully immersive experiences in various formats, and researching 'immersive narrative embodiment' effects and exploring further asymmetric collaborative co-design structures and approaches. The project is underway, and outcomes and findings are very positive, so far.
Exploitation Route The outcomes of this funding contributed towards a new model for engaging underserved and under-represented audiences, which is doucmented in a manuscript that is in preparation for submission to a peer-reviewed journal. It is hoped that dissemination of this model will help others to engage audiences they have found it difficult to engage with previously. In addition these outcomes contributed towards the proposal for a large (Nucleus) award from the STFC, which is being used to create and document the outcomes of delivering activities within the framework of a fully-immersive theatrical experience and the results of this will also hopefully inform public engagement practice in the future.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Communities and Social Services/Policy,Creative Economy,Education,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

URL http://www.smashfestuk.com
 
Description Narrative Impact The project focused on expanding the scope of the co-creation and delivery of the narrative-based STEAM festival approach, designed to engage audiences who are under-represented at science museums, centres and festivals and arts-cultural spaces. It demonstrated the value of a design-lead approach and use of narratives as a tool for engaging under-represented audiences, and developed pedagogy and methods for practice-based research in public engagement. SMASHfestUK was originally created as an experimental prototype event and research programme, but the success of the engagement has lead to it being developed as a social-justice based community interest company and CBPAR/Design research platform, to further the aims. SMASHfestUK has achieved key impacts, as detailed below: 1. Created an arts/science Informal Education programme which is regularly, and repeatedly attended by and engaged with audiences previously considered "hard to reach" (white working class, female and BAME) 2. Led and changed practice across multiple organisations, institutions and stakeholders including UKRI organisations (STFC), the Royal Academy for Engineering, Middlesex University, the Structural Genomics Consortium, the British Ecological Society and local community groups including LPF Kiddies Club. 3. Informed creation of new engagement policy for commercial and public STEM stakeholder groups including BP, Shell, Dept for Education, BEIS and Trade SMASHfestUK has had significant impact outside of the academic environment, with a positive contribution across a diverse range of communities. This contribution spans a variety of sectors, at a variety of levels, with both reach and significance. SMASHfestUK's CBPAR/Co-Design approach has led and evidenced real change in practice amongst its network of stakeholders, recognising the effectiveness of its research methods. The approach has scaffolded provision of a breadth of consultancy, training, curriculum development and institutional practice and funding policy-change, locally and at national and international level. SMASHfestUK created a platform for multiple interdisciplinary projects, linked by disaster-based narratives, and funded by peer-review processes. The delivery of events during the programme allowed Keith and Griffiths to explore sectoral specific implementations of the principles for inclusive engagement they had developed and resulted in the emergence of a novel engagement model. Thus SMASHfestUK has become a platform for engagement and a process through which to develop new approaches for multiple academics, across multiple institutions and disciplines to reach diverse and marginalised audiences. The programme was co-designed and co-created with stakeholders, including local children, their families, community organisations, academics, students, artists, engineers and scientists. The nature of the impact is not only to raise science capital indicators in audiences, but also to give researchers and communicators who are local to the events a platform through which they can achieve impact and outreach for their own research. SMASHfestUK has led change and informed policy shifts in academic institutions and funding organisations across the UK. The National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement said: "This teamreach outside the university to really connect their work to wider society and involve the public in research in meaningful and potentially transformative ways." Subsequently the NCCPE, STFC, RAE, the Queen Elizabeth prize for Engineering, The Engineer and the Million Plus Association for Modern Universities have used SMASHfestUK outcomes and methods in case studies that highlight innovation, and innovative approaches to public engagement with research and transformation for social justice. SMASHfestUK co-founders, Keith and Griffiths, have affected policy change via a number of routes: The Royal Academy of Engineering invited them to join a engineering industry body tasked with creating a new Code of Conduct for Inclusive Engagement in Engineering, alongside BP, Shell and government representatives from the Departments of Trade, BEIS and Education. They were also invited to contribute evidence to an All Party Parliamentary Group on Science and Diversity, and contributed to the Million Plus '25 Years and Rising' Policy Report. The work of SMAShfestUK and Keith and Griffiths informed the development and roll-out of a new public engagement strategy for the STFC and their "Wonder" initiative for engaging underserved audiences. Derek Gillespie, STFC Associate Director for Research and Innovation Strategy, commented: "with the SMASHfest team, the development and delivery of STFC's engagement strategy has been demonstrably improved: delivery mechanisms and evaluation thinking for our Wonder initiative to reach under-served audiences has been directly influenced by the contributions of the SMASHfest team." Based on SMASHfestUK work, Griffiths has also been appointed to the management board of the STFC funded national Association of Science Discovery Centres - 'Explore Your Universe' programme. SMASHfestUK has worked with the Wellcome Trust, one of the world's largest funders of scientific research, from its inception, and has impacted Wellcome's approach to and expectations for Public Engagement. Imran Khan, Head of Public Engagement at the Wellcome Trust commented: "SMASHfest is an innovative and pioneering example of excellent community-focused public engagement. They've set new standards in how engagement can be designed and delivered with audiences in mind - particularly those that might have been traditionally termed 'under-served' or 'hard-to-reach', resulting in social impact. From Wellcome's perspective, SMASHfest has become a great case study for others to learn from." Sharing their learning, Keith and Griffiths were invited to create and chair a new peer-reviewed conference track at the international Design Research Society Learn X Design 2019, Fifth International Conference for Design Education Researchers, entitled 'Designing for Social Inclusion and Public Engagement', hosted at METU, Ankara, which brought together researchers from China, Egypt, Turkey and the UK, producing four peer reviewed papers and a new international collaborative research group.
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Creative Economy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Societal,Economic,Policy & public services

 
Description All Party Parliamentary Group on Diversity in STEM
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Gave evidence to a government review
URL https://www.britishscienceassociation.org/appg
 
Description NESTA panel member
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
URL https://www.nesta.org.uk/event/breaking-mould-fostering-diversity-innovation/
 
Description Grants for the Arts
Amount £14,985 (GBP)
Funding ID GFTA-00075310 
Organisation Arts Council England 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2018 
End 08/2018
 
Description SMASHfestUK: 2018/19 - consolidation application
Amount £60,000 (GBP)
Funding ID 208895/Z/17/Z 
Organisation Wellcome Trust 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 11/2017 
End 11/2019
 
Description Bradford Science Festival 
Organisation Science Museum Group
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution in 2017 Bradford Science and Media Museum hosted the inaugural Bradford Science Festival. They had some funding available for contributors, and as such, incombination with the STFC award we were able to present a "mini" SMASHFestUK: Supervolcano event over 2 days at the festival. The events included a giant cryovolcanic eruption. "escape the volcano" interactive games, truss bridge building and many more interactives and live shows.
Collaborator Contribution Bradford were able to contribute financially towards taking the SMASHfestUK events to Bradford and exhibiting them there and also contributed creative and practical support such as venues.
Impact Bradford Science Festival
Start Year 2017
 
Description Gloucester Library Pop-Up Festival 
Organisation Gloucestershire County Council
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution We collaborated with Gloucester Library to find out whether there was a suitable interactive opportunity to host an event as a pop-up festival in line with the themes of the Earth and Space Tour.
Collaborator Contribution The library played host to the Pop-Up Earth and Sky Tour One-Day Festival in Gloucester.
Impact One Day Pop Up festival as part of the SMAShfestUK Earth and Sky Tour
Start Year 2017
 
Description Hydrogen Bike Interactive 
Organisation Swansea University
Department College of Engineering
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We collaborated with Dr Dunhill and his department to find out whether there was a suitable interactive opportunity to add an event to the pop-up festival, representing Swansea University but in line with the themes of the Earth and Space Tour. The |"hydrogen bike" exhibit was offered and we were able to create a marquee space and host the interactive in neath town centre for the duration of the Pop-up festival.
Collaborator Contribution Dr Charlie Dunhill from the Department of Engineering at Swansea University brought along an interactive game/exhibit to the pop-up SMAShfestUK festival in Neath, Wales. The interactive was based around alternative forms of energy, and this related to how we could create energy ourselves if a natural disaster wiped out our energy infrastrucuture and with a focus on reneable energy. Dr Dunhill brought his hydrogen bike to the festival where he and his academic staff/PhD students engaged visitors who could explore energy generation. "An energy input method such as an exercise bike will be connected to a uniquely built water splitting device. The display will allow a participant to put energy "In" and observe in real time the formation of their hydrogen and oxygen from the electrolysis process. Once a sufficient quantity of hydrogen has been created and stored in the central part of the storage system, the members of the public have the unique opportunity to actually light their own hydrogen flame using my custom built micro burner. This will give them a stable and safe flame about the size of a normal candle. Under the right conditions, hydrogen will actually burn with a clean carbon neutral, stable flame in a very safe way."
Impact Engagement with low SES community audiences with STFC research and local HE opportunities and researchers.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Swansea University / Swansea Science Festival 
Organisation Swansea University
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Community engagement with local interest groups. Schools outreach campaign preceding the festival. Engagement of low SES community members. Production of a one-day "pop-up" Space themed Festival
Collaborator Contribution Swansea University and the Swansea Science Festival were our hosts and partners for delivery of the one-day pop up festival. The partners featured our events in the official programme of events for the science festival. The partners engaged in co-operative marketing of the events online and in brochures and marketing.
Impact Pop-up festival in Neath in partnership with the Swansea Science Festival. Following the hosting of the British Science Association annual festival in 2016, Swansea University undertook to produce the first ever Swansea Science Festival in 2017. The organisers attended a part-STFC funded SMASHfestUK festival event in Deptford in February 2017 (Supervolcano) and used this as inspiration for producing their own event in Swansea, asking SMASHfestUK to collaborate. The Earth and Sky Tour allowed SMASHfestUK to have a presence at the Swansea Science Festival, but in keeping with its mission to serve under-represented and underprivileged communities, the Earth and Sky Tour Pop-Up Festival took place in the schools and town of Neath - a deprived community in the Swansea Valley, some 20 miles away on the weekend prior to the main festival. The one-day pop-up featured a number of space and science related events and interactives, in collaboration with local community organisations and educational institutions.
Start Year 2017
 
Description VR Astronomy 
Organisation Cardiff University
Department School of Physics and Astronomy
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We collaborated with Dr Paul Roche of Cardiff University School of Physics and Astronomy to fin local astronomers who were able to attend the one-day pop-up festival in Neath as part of the Earth and Sky Tour.
Collaborator Contribution Dr Roche attended the one-day pop-up festival in Neath, Wales as an astronomy ambassador engaging publics and visitors with astronomy using a variety of exciting exhibits including virtual reality headsets and augmented reality as well as actual space artifacts that visitors could handle and explore. He has spent over 25 years researching massive stars, neutron stars and black holes, but now mainly specialises in using astronomy and space science to encourage students of all ages to study STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects. In this capacity, he has been the UK National Schools' Astronomer since 2001, and Director of the Faulkes Telescope Project since 2002 and is also the European Space Agency (ESERO-UK) "Space Ambassador for Wales", acting as link between research, industry, education and the general public.
Impact Engagement with low SES community audiences with STFC research and local HE opportunities and researchers.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Volcanoes and Seaweed 
Organisation Swansea University
Department Department of Biosciences
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Hosting the collaborators and their research exhibit at marquees and stalls in Neath town centre as part of the Earth and Sky Tour Pop-Up festival.
Collaborator Contribution pHD Swansea Bioscience Scientist Dr Aditee Mitra and her PhD students presented a variety of issues ranging from sustainable use of water to the impact of human behaviour on the global oceans. Their research and interactive exhibit explored how volcanic material feeds plankton. Dr Mitra's PhD student is working with seaweeds and brought some to show in the event, linking them to the action of waves and talk about how can we use them as a food source- relating directly to local Welsh delicacies such as Laver Bread
Impact One-day pop-up festival in Neath, Wales
Start Year 2017
 
Description Waterside Museum Swansea 
Organisation Swansea Museum
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution We collaborated with the Museum which was one of the host venues and partners for the main Swansea Science Festival to support one-day pop-up festival in Neath
Collaborator Contribution Provision of necessary equipment and general support for marquees etc.
Impact Engagement with low SES community audiences with STFC research and local HE opportunities and researchers.
Start Year 2017
 
Company Name SMASHFESTUK CIC 
Description The company's activities will provide informal STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths) education for the benefit of young people and their families in the UK, particularly those young people living with poverty and those who are from a BAME background. The aim of the activities is to bring informal science and arts educational activities to people who may not normally have access to or be able to engage with these kinds of activities, raising "science and creative capital" to improve outcomes in the community. 
Year Established 2018 
Impact Company has only recently been indeendently established
Website http://www.smashfestuk.org
 
Description Bradford Science Festival 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact TBC
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.scienceandmediamuseum.org.uk/what-was-on/bradford-science-festival-2017
 
Description Gloucester Earth and Sky Tour 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact See Neath for details of activities. In addition, there was boat building (wind power generation ) and a rocketry display and altenrative energy exhibits including a smoothie-making bicycle.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.flickr.com/photos/30542236@N04/albums/72157686799229652
 
Description Graham Park, Colindale Earth and Sky Tour 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact See Neath Earth and Sky Tour for Activities
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.flickr.com/photos/30542236@N04/albums/72157683848126735
 
Description Living In Space Experience: SMASHfestUK (Flood) Deptford 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Living in Space was a standalone experience incorporated into the main annual SMASHfestUK festival, with the theme of "Flood!" in 2018. The living in space experience asked the question - if our place on Earth became uninhabitable, could we survive in space? LIS featured interactive robots, porgramming and coding, Virtaul Reality trips through and asteroid, astronaut training, gravity wave tabletop demonstrations and other interactive elements.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.flickr.com/photos/30542236@N04/albums/72157691377079960
 
Description Neath Earth and Sky Tour 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact SMASHfestUK created a one-day pop-up version of their main festival, with the theme: The Earth and Sky Tour. The event was held in multiple locations in Neath town centre, a post-industrial former mining town in the South Wales Valleys, in which 30% of young people are living in poverty. The event comprised more than 16 separate interactive games, installations and performances and was attended by more than 500 members of the public. The events included a giant volcano teepee installation, science rapping, asteroid-making, rocket launching, bicycle power generation and renewable energy our signature Survival Village and Space Camp, virtual reality meteorites, and real life bioscientists!
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.flickr.com/photos/30542236@N04/albums/72157688104510776
 
Description Woolwich Earth and Sky Tour 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact See Neath event for examples of events. In addition, Woolwich featured Little Inventors, Solar Storm Bingo Games, Solar Telescope, Drumming Workshops and Big Screen Space films.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.flickr.com/photos/30542236@N04/albums/72157682206975411