VirtualSpace

Lead Research Organisation: Swansea University
Department Name: College of Science

Abstract

- Engage and educate school students and the general public in STFC science and technology. We will highlight the science supported by STFC, the STFC facilities/equipment, and the people who work at the facilities.

- Showcase the different career opportunities available to school students in STEM subjects. We will outline the education and qualifications needed, possible career paths and the day-to-day work of the highlighted careers, to give a insightful look at STEM careers for young people.

- Develop high quality, innovative educational resources that highlight STFC's science & technology to the public and schools. We will use innovative new technologies, such as virtual reality, to better engage with students and the general public. This will also users to see and explore STFC science facilities and locations in a completely new and better way that ever before.

- Test the effectiveness of using new technologies, such as Virtual Reality and 360 degree tours, in school education.

- Reach diverse audiences, both school students and the general public, especially those who do not have easy access to STEM activities. This pilot project will target both English and Welsh medium schools in South Wales, ensuring that speakers of both langauges in Wales have access to these innovative and engaging resources.

The impact on school children will be through improved science knowledge, knowledge of science facilities and information on STEM-related careers. The virtual tours (VTs), along with the curriculum-linked accompanying resources, will focus on educating users about the science, technology and engineering associated with each facility. These VTs will be run both in the classroom, and in the Oriel Science Exhibition Centre in Swansea as part of organised school visits to that venue. We will measure how much the students have learnt through the evaluation of the project using pre- and post-questionnaires. Secondly, the students will learn about the possible careers linked to each facility, through short interviews and biographies of employees at each facility (embedded in the VTs and associated materials). The students will be required to watch/read/listen to each employee's personal story in order to answer questions that are posed as part of the tour.

The VTs that will be produced as part of this project are an engaging and innovative way of capturing the imagination of members of the public. At public events, a 'wow' factor is needed to draw people in to learn more about scientific facilities, and we see VTs as a great way of doing this. Public visitors to Oriel Science and attendees at public events that this project team attends will be able to engage with the VTs, promoting STFC science and facilities.

The impact on the STFC will be through an increase in awareness of STFC as a whole, and of the science done/funded by STFC, and the existence of the facilities that are associated with STFC. By delivering the VTs in schools, public science centres and festivals, we will help to raise awareness of STFC and its facilities. Through information in the VTs, 3D models, interviews with staff at the sites and classroom exercises, we will run through the different STEM areas that are associated with each facility (see additional document for related curriculum links). The careers, roles and personal stories which are part of STFC will also be promoted in the VTs, showcasing STFC as a key employer in STEM areas.

Planned Impact

The VTs, both in smartphone and web app formats, will be disseminated, promoted and delivered through several key people and organisations:

- Matthew Allen will deliver ~15 school workshops as part of his staff costings in the project. These 1 hour long workshops will highlight each of the 4 VTs produced. This will directly allow people to use the VTs, with instruction and support from Allen, whilst also allowing him to gather evaluation and feedback from users. This will reach ~450 students and 15 teachers.

- Chris North will deliver ~5 school workshops as part of his current STFC Spark Award and fellowship. He will primarily demonstrate the LIGO facility VT, combining it with other resources and classroom activities that he is undertaking. This will reach ~150 students and 5 teachers.

- 5 workshops will be undertaken at the Oriel science centre, Swansea. Schools will be able to use the VT's whilst at Oriel, alongside the other resources available, to provide a more complete learning experience. This will reach ~150 students and 5 teachers.

- At all schools, a flyer will be handed out which will give information on how to download the VR apps, and where to access the web versions of the VT's. This will allow teachers and schools to use both versions of the VTs with their students, or other classes, beyond the school workshop visits.

- The VTs will be demonstrated at a number of public events by all the people associated with the project (SR, MA, CA, CN, PR). Using a number of Virtual Reality headsets which have been purchased on a previous STFC grant (SpMS), the general public will be able to explore STFC facilities, associated science and careers. Other engagement grants held by or worked on by investigators of this project have reach tens of thousands of people at public events, making a large and significant impact.

- STFC attend many events throughout the year, engaging with members of the public and schools. We would hope and encourage the VTs to be demonstrated at these events, either on a VR headset, tablet or computer screen. We will produce "user guides" for each VT, so they can be used by other science communicators and teachers. To support STFC in doing this, Matthew Allen will offer to attend several events with STFC, and/or provide a one-off training event for STFC public engagers, the costs of which will be covered by this grant.

- IoP have expressed serious interest in using newly created VTs in schools, in the same way they are doing with the pilot VT of Diamond Light Source. We have no solid number of people that this will reach, but it is likely to be >10 workshops (nationwide) in the first year.

- The Virtual Reality version of the app will be made available to download, for free, on the Google Play Store and Apple App store. The web app version can be put online and made available to use using a normal computer, tablet or phone. The VT's will hence be disseminated across the UK and the world as people can use them at home for free. As mentioned above, a number of flyers will be printed to promote the VTs at public events and in schools.

- The VTs themselves will be promoted globally by various organisations. Cardiff Uni, Swansea Uni, the LIGO collaboration, STFC and Faulkes Telescope Project will be able to promote them through social media and on their respective websites. We will also look to promote the VTs through national educational partners and bodies, including ESERO-UK, ASE and IoP.

- Evaluation and the results of our research into using VTs will be presented at conferences (e.g. NAM, ASE, IoP events) and published in relevant academic journals.

- Finally, this project will offer a great opportunity for Cardiff Uni, Swansea Uni, the Faulkes Telescope Project and STFC to collaborate and network together. This will lead to future collaborations and projects, strengthening science engagement within and between each of these organisations.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Title 360 degree images 
Description As part of the project we captured 360 degree images of 4 STFC facilities - Daresbury, ISIS, Diamond, Boulby. A number of iages were taken that were not used in the final tour, giving a more complete look at the facilities. These images have been made available to several of the facilities to use in other engagement projects. 
Type Of Art Artwork 
Year Produced 2019 
Impact N/A 
 
Title Interview recordings 
Description We recorded interviews with a number of STFC staff at 2 facilities - Daresbury and ISIS. 
Type Of Art Artefact (including digital) 
Year Produced 2019 
Impact N/A 
 
Description The project has been able to create digital resources to allow the public and schools to visit key STFC facilities from their homes or classroom. There are several reasons why physical visits to the sites is not always possible:
- Distance to travel to the sites
- Expense of a day away for the visit
- Time restraints around access to the facilities
- The maximum number of people that can visit them
- Events such as COVID-19 which limit physical events
As such, we have managed to create a way for people to explore these facilities online, in the form of a virtual tour, to avoid these restraints. We have integrated key information and learning within the tours, allowing participants to understand more about each facility, the work of STFC, the staff at the facilities and information on careers.
Exploitation Route To take the outcomes forward, we would hope to use them within classrooms after COVID-19 has passed. However, a large attraction of the digital tours is that anyone anywhere can access them on a computer, allowing us to disseminate them to the public and schools across the UK with ease. Utilising STEM ambassadors to deliver workshops using the tours would be an ideal way forward, allowing us to promote the facilities across the UK. To do this we would look to develop guides to support other people in delivering the tours.
We would look to try to complete the incomplete tour to complete the selection of 4 facilities, providing a representative look at STFC facilities.
Sectors Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Healthcare

 
Description Cardiff-Swansea-Faulkes partnership 
Organisation Cardiff University
Department Faulkes Telescope Project
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We have collaborated with members of staff in physics outreach at Cardiff University and the Faulkes Telescope Project to develop the tours. This has involved regular communication, purchasing of equipment, identifying other collaborators and generally supporting the work of the team.
Collaborator Contribution Similar to above. The partners produced the 360 tours and presented the work to our team. They regularly kept us updated about the project and their work.
Impact Outcomes are the 360 tours themselves.
Start Year 2018
 
Description Cardiff-Swansea-Faulkes partnership 
Organisation Cardiff University
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We have collaborated with members of staff in physics outreach at Cardiff University and the Faulkes Telescope Project to develop the tours. This has involved regular communication, purchasing of equipment, identifying other collaborators and generally supporting the work of the team.
Collaborator Contribution Similar to above. The partners produced the 360 tours and presented the work to our team. They regularly kept us updated about the project and their work.
Impact Outcomes are the 360 tours themselves.
Start Year 2018
 
Description VirtualSpace 
Organisation Daresbury Laboratory
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution We have built a collaboration between the above partners, in order to create the virtual tours of the above facilities. We have contributed our time to develop the tours, take photos of the facilities and deliver workshops based on their facilities.
Collaborator Contribution The partners have contributed information on the facilities for the tours, as well as providing their own time to guide us around the facilities to take the images.
Impact The outputs are the virtual tour apps of each facility.
Start Year 2018
 
Description VirtualSpace 
Organisation LIGO
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We have built a collaboration between the above partners, in order to create the virtual tours of the above facilities. We have contributed our time to develop the tours, take photos of the facilities and deliver workshops based on their facilities.
Collaborator Contribution The partners have contributed information on the facilities for the tours, as well as providing their own time to guide us around the facilities to take the images.
Impact The outputs are the virtual tour apps of each facility.
Start Year 2018
 
Description VirtualSpace 
Organisation Science and Technologies Facilities Council (STFC)
Department Boulby Underground Science Facility
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We have built a collaboration between the above partners, in order to create the virtual tours of the above facilities. We have contributed our time to develop the tours, take photos of the facilities and deliver workshops based on their facilities.
Collaborator Contribution The partners have contributed information on the facilities for the tours, as well as providing their own time to guide us around the facilities to take the images.
Impact The outputs are the virtual tour apps of each facility.
Start Year 2018
 
Description VirtualSpace 
Organisation Science and Technologies Facilities Council (STFC)
Department ISIS Neutron and Muon Source
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We have built a collaboration between the above partners, in order to create the virtual tours of the above facilities. We have contributed our time to develop the tours, take photos of the facilities and deliver workshops based on their facilities.
Collaborator Contribution The partners have contributed information on the facilities for the tours, as well as providing their own time to guide us around the facilities to take the images.
Impact The outputs are the virtual tour apps of each facility.
Start Year 2018
 
Title 360 Virtual Tour app 
Description Software to display 360 degree images as part of the virtual tour app 
Type Of Technology Webtool/Application 
Year Produced 2018 
Impact Ready to be used to make the apps 
 
Title 360 tour - Daresbury 
Description The 360 tour of the Daresbury facility, publicly available online in WebGL format. 
Type Of Technology Webtool/Application 
Year Produced 2020 
Impact N/A 
URL https://simmer.io/@Virtualspace/daresbury-laboratory-360-tour
 
Title 360 tour - Diamond Light Source 
Description 360 tour of the Diamond Light Source facility, in WebGL format, available publicly 
Type Of Technology Webtool/Application 
Year Produced 2020 
Impact N/A 
URL https://simmer.io/@Virtualspace/diamond-light-source-360-tour
 
Title 360 tour - ISIS 
Description The 360 tour of the ISIS facility, publicly available online in WebGL format. 
Type Of Technology Webtool/Application 
Year Produced 2020 
Impact N/A 
URL https://simmer.io/@NeutronsMuons/isis-360-tour
 
Description Cardiff Science Festival 2019 
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 Showcase of the virtual tours at Cardiff Science Festival 2019. The tours were showcased on a laptop at a physics themed event.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Cardiff Science Festival 2020 
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 Showcase of the virtual tours at Cardiff Science Festival 2020. The tours were showcased on a laptop at a physics themed event.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Inclusion in TrioSciCymru schools project 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact The tours were added to the TrioSciCymru schools programme's VLE for students to access.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020,2021
 
Description School workshops 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Delivery of workshops in schools, based around each of the virtual tours
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019,2020
 
Description public events 
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 We demonstrated the virtual tours at a number of events, including WOMAD and Cardiff Science Festival. This involved talking to members of the public about the various facilities and showing them the tours on virtual reality headsets
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019