We Share the Same Moon

Lead Research Organisation: University of Central Lancashire
Department Name: Jeremiah Horrocks Institute

Abstract

The ultimate aim of We Share the Same Moon will be to use folktales relating to the Moon from a variety of different cultures to engage a young audience with the wonder and creativity of science.

Human beings have always looked up at the sky and wondered about the stars. Since ancient times there has been a long tradition of drawing patterns in the stars, and relating these patterns to local mythology and folklore. In the modern world, science is making spectacular advances in unravelling the story of how the Universe came to be the way we see it today, but these ancient stories remain with us in the form of our modern constellations.

The ancient stories on which our modern sky is based were not purely folklore, they had a purpose not only as a form of entertainment or as moral tales, but also as a memory-aid, helping people learn the sky and so aiding in agriculture and navigation long before the invention of the compass, clocks, or modern GPS technology.

One example of practical sky lore is the Australian Aboriginal story of the emu in the sky, an extraordinarily large feature which, when visible at a certain time of the year, told people the correct time to search for emu eggs, a valuable source of many vital nutrients. The emu is a very obvious feature of the Southern sky, formed from the dust clouds in the Milky Way, and still features in the stories and artwork of modern Aboriginal Australia. We now know that these dark patches are regions of the disk of our galaxy where the stars are obscured by thick lanes of dust, but that scientific knowledge does not, and should not, make the folktale less important. Science does not exist in a cultural vacuum, and the scientific process requires a good measure of creativity and inspiration.

This project will collect some of the most interesting and imaginative Moon tales from different cultures around the world, both ancient and modern, and use them to create curriculum-linked teaching resources for primary-age children. These resources will be written with the intention of encouraging children to explore an idea in a scientific way, and also to explore other cultures and to think creatively about the world around them at the same time. Cultural sky stories will be used as the basis for the activities, each with some aspect of modern astronomy illustrated alongside and suggestions for exploring the topic in more depth, and will be designed such that teachers of any specialism will be able to make use of them in the classroom.

We will engage and enthuse young children with astronomy (and science, and the scientific process, more generally) through the use of storytelling and other creative approaches. We aim to engage and collaborate with schoolchildren, teachers and informal educators to develop, test, implement and evaluate a series of story-based curriculum-linked resources that can be used by educators of any background. The resources we produce will be tested by and (with their help) made suitable for diverse audiences, including children with English as an additional language, those who are hearing or visually impaired, and those with autism. The resources will particularly useful for groups with low science capital, those who may have little or no exposure to science in their home environment, and will be designed to be easy to use by teachers with no science background.

Planned Impact

The main deliverable of the project will be a collection of resources linked to the UK primary curriculum. These resources will be developed, tested and evaluated in collaboration with our teacher partners in the Bath Schools Science Network, as well as with informal educators at the Royal Astronomical Society and the Young Scientist Centre.

Once completed, these resources will be distributed via the internet and through our networks. Cassandra Wye has an extensive network of storytellers and schools with whom she already works. Megan has access to networks of science communicators both in the UK and overseas. While the resources produced will be tailored to the UK curriculum, they will also be useful in other countries and will be easily adaptable to other curricula. Our project partners will also play a role in the distribution of the resources through their own networks and by word of mouth.

As part of this project we will create a dedicated website (already funded through the Arts Council grant) to host the science resources, the stories, and the video, audio and other format versions of the resources. We also plan to present the results of our project and its evaluation in research articles and presentations in suitable publications and conferences such as the Association of Science Educators conference, the British Science Association conference, the National Astronomy Meeting, in Astronomy & Geophysics, and in the Communicating Astronomy with the Public journal.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description Arts Council National Lottery Project Grants
Amount £16,940 (GBP)
Organisation Arts Council England 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2019 
End 09/2019
 
Description IAU100
Amount € 2,000 (EUR)
Organisation International Astronomical Union 
Sector Learned Society
Country France
Start 01/2019 
End 09/2019
 
Description Facebook page 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A Facebook page was set up to advertise the project. Posts were made to advertise when new activities were uploaded to the website or to advertise new public events related to the project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL http://www.facebook.com/WSTSMoon
 
Description Public event - Moon Camp, October 5th 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 As part of their Moon Camp event, hi-impact organised a public day at Thurstaston campsite on the Wirral. The camp had involved local school children staying at the site for a few days, doing activities based around science, engineering and technology. The public day brought in their parents, teachers, and others from the surrounding area. I ran a stand doing Moon Globes and Solar System Touch Boxes. We were flooded with visitors, so all 200 Moon globes were used, and the solar system touch boxes went down really well. The local mayor visited and was interested in the project. Business cards were taken by many parents, and flyers with descriptions of how to use the models to explore phases of the Moon at home.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Public family event 
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 Family event held at Alston Observatory (part of the University of Central Lancashire), Preston for 60 people, roughly half of them children under 12. The event was held to engage with a regional audience in Lancashire, and to test out some of our activities in a family environment (rather than in a school, which was the main aim of the project). The event started with sunset at 6pm, the Moon at an elevation of 25 degrees and 10% illuminated. On arrival, people were shown the Moon (as it was cloudy, telescopes were not used). We made use of the on-site planetarium to show illustrations to help explain the science behind the stories and activities carried out. The storyteller told a story relating to the phase of the Moon, while an animation played on the planetarium roof showing the phases slowly changing over a full lunar cycle. Participants then tried the Lunar Phases activity with polystyrene balls and a lamp. Children were given art materials and encouraged to decorate their own Moon model. We then heard a lunar eclipse story, accompanied by a lunar eclipse animation on the planetarium roof, and then we used the model moons to show how eclipses work. UCLan issued a press release relating tot he event which was picked up by regional media outlets.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL http://businesslancashire.co.uk/2019/03/18/youngsters-over-the-moon/
 
Description Public stargazing and storytelling event, Troopers Hill, Bristol, 7th September 2019 
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 A public evening held at Troopers Hill nature reserve, Bristol. Entry was by ticket only, and the event was managed and advertised by the Friends of Troopers Hill group. The audience, mainly families, were seated in the open air and enjoyed an evening of storytelling and science, culminating with a live planetarium show using the real sky overhead. The storyteller on the project performed some stories from the project collection, and then I talked about the science behind them, and took the audience on a tour of the sky. Feedback on the content was good, although some fat younger children struggled to sit still for the whole event, and not everyone was prepared for the cold (despite warnings and advice on what to bring being included in the event advertising).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Public website 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact All of the resources produced and tested in schools during the project period have been put online for use by teachers, families, and anyone who is interested. This includes over 20 science activities, each linked to one or more aspects of the primary school science curriculum as well as other cross-curricular links, with a short "science story" for use by teachers to introduce the topic, background information on the aspect of science covered in the activity, detailed list of materials required, clear step-by-step instructions for the activity, images showing the steps involved in the activity, follow-on activities for use as extensions or for follow-on lessons, and links to external resources for more information. Each activity is provided in multiple formats for maximum usability, and links to one or more of the Moon-related folk tales collected by the storyteller on the project. Some of the stories include recordings made using the audio recorder purchased through this grant, and two stories are also available as video recordings with British Sign Language interpretation (funded through the Arts Council grant, PI Cassandra Wye). From the weblogs available in Wordpress we know that this site is reaching several hundred unique people per month, resulting in several thousand downloads. A contact form is also provided for people to provide feedback, and a form requesting that users let us know where and when they have used our activities is also provided.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019,2020
URL http://www.wesharethesamemoon.org
 
Description School visit - Burnley 
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 We visited a school in Burnley on March 11th 2019 to test several of the stories collected for the project. Over the course of the school day we talked to roughly 500 children. Each group listened to at least two stories told but eh storyteller, and heard a short science explanation from me. Questionnaires were given to the teachers in each session to find out if, in their opinion, the stories were appropriate for the age group, were a suitable introduction to the curriculum topic which we had suggested, and engaged the children sufficiently well. In each case, the feedback from the teachers was positive.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description School visit - after school science club workshop 
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 On May 9th 2019 I visited Puss Bank School in Macclesfield to run a Moon workshop for their after-school science club. The club has about 30 students, covering everything from reception to year 6. Over an hour I ran a make-a-moon workshop and a demonstration of lunar phases, following the lesson plan created for the project. The teachers and parent helpers joined in with the event. The students reported a better understanding of the phases of the Moon, and the teachers reported after the event that the students had wanted to carry on experimenting with their Moon models.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description School workshop - Bristol (Castle Primary School, Keynsham) June 18th 2019 
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 Testing science workshops in schools. In this school we did Star Hats with year 4, Forces with year 5, and Eclipses with year 6. Each class was ~30 children, and each session stared with a short story, followed by an introduction to the topic (the "science story"), followed by the activity, and a brief evaluation. At the end of each session the teachers were asked to provide feedback on the content, level and appropriateness of the story and activity and whether, in their opinion, they matched the intended curriculum topics.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description School workshop - Bristol (Clutton Primary School, Clutton) June 27th 2019 
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 Testing science workshops in schools. In this school we did Moon Hats with reception, Day/Night with year 1+2, and Craters with year 2+3. Each class was ~30 children, and each session stared with a short story, followed by an introduction to the topic (the "science story"), followed by the activity, and a brief evaluation. At the end of each session the teachers were asked to provide feedback on the content, level and appropriateness of the story and activity and whether, in their opinion, they matched the intended curriculum topics.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description School workshop - Bristol (Pensford Primary School, Pensford) June 19th 2019 
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 Testing science workshops in schools. In this school we did Rockets with year 1+2, Moon Globes with year 3+4, and Evolution with year 5+6. Each class was ~30 children, and each session stared with a short story, followed by an introduction to the topic (the "science story"), followed by the activity, and a brief evaluation. At the end of each session the teachers were asked to provide feedback on the content, level and appropriateness of the story and activity and whether, in their opinion, they matched the intended curriculum topics.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description School workshop - Bristol (Trinity Church School, Radstock) June 17th 2019 
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 Testing science workshops in schools. In this school we did Moon Hats with reception, Solar System Touch Boxes with year 1, and Sun Viewer with year 3. Each class was ~30 children, and each session stared with a short story, followed by an introduction to the topic (the "science story"), followed by the activity, and a brief evaluation. At the end of each session the teachers were asked to provide feedback on the content, level and appropriateness of the story and activity and whether, in their opinion, they matched the intended curriculum topics.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description School workshop - Bristol (Weston All Saints C Of E Primary School, Bath) September 8th 2019 
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 Testing science workshops in schools. In this school we did Solar System on a String with one year 5 class, Seasons with another year 5 class, and Constellations with a further year 5 class. Each class was ~30 children, and each session stared with a short story, followed by an introduction to the topic (the "science story"), followed by the activity, and a brief evaluation. At the end of each session the teachers were asked to provide feedback on the content, level and appropriateness of the story and activity and whether, in their opinion, they matched the intended curriculum topics.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description School workshop - Bristol (Whitchurch Primary School, Bristol) June 28th 2019 
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 Testing science workshops in schools. In this school we did Day/night animals with year 1, Comet Tails with year 3, and Eclipses with year 6. Each class was ~30 children, and each session stared with a short story, followed by an introduction to the topic (the "science story"), followed by the activity, and a brief evaluation. At the end of each session the teachers were asked to provide feedback on the content, level and appropriateness of the story and activity and whether, in their opinion, they matched the intended curriculum topics.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description School workshop - Burnley (St Joseph's RC Primary School, Stacksteads) September 12th 2019 
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 Testing science workshops in schools. In this school we did Star Hats with year 1+2, Star Maps with year 2+3, and Constellations with year 4+5. Each class was ~30 children, and each session stared with a short story, followed by an introduction to the topic (the "science story"), followed by the activity, and a brief evaluation. At the end of each session the teachers were asked to provide feedback on the content, level and appropriateness of the story and activity and whether, in their opinion, they matched the intended curriculum topics.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Stand at meeting of engagement practitioners (UCLan, 4th September 2019) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact At the Interact meeting at UCLan, Preston, I ran a stand showcasing the activities and resources produced for this project. Examples of the activities (such as a constellation mobile, an eclipse model, some solar system touch boxes, etc) were displayed for the attendees to experiment with, and examples of our activity sheets were printed out for them to look at. Flyers and business cards were given away, advertising the website and what it is intended for, and I spoke to over 50 people explaining the project. Several people expressed interest, and several took more than one business card or flyer to pass on to primary school teachers they knew who might be interested.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Twitter account 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A Twitter account was set up to advertise the project and website, posting tweets about new activities uploaded to the website, advertising events, and posting general Moon-related news items from recognised sources such as NASA, ESA, and science magazines or journals.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL http://twitter.com/wstsmoon
 
Description Workshop as part of the Bristol Rocks! event at Bristol Museum 
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 On April 6th we participated in the Bristol Rocks! event at Bristol Museum. The storyteller held regular storytelling sessions throughout the day, testing more of the stories collected for the project, while I ran a "Make a Moon" workshop where members of the public (mostly children, but some adults joined in as well) made and decorated their own model Moons, and paper hats illustrating the phases of the Moon. Flyers were distributed to advertise the project, including QR codes that would take people to a specially-created page on the website explaining how to use their Moon models to explore the phases of the Moon when they got home. The Museum provided volunteers to help with this session, and they carried out a simple evaluation process asking people whether they had enjoyed the activity when they left the room. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive. In terms of engagement, the majority of visitors stayed for about half an hour and talked about the Moon with at least one of the volunteers present. A small number (~10) pf participants stayed for significantly longer, with one father and son staying with us for over two hours. Most of the people with whom I spoke to did not know how the phases of the Moon happened, but reported leaving with a much better understanding.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Workshops at Solarsphere festival (Builth Wells, Wales) 10th August 2019 
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 At the Solarsphere festival (astronomy and music), I ran a three-hour drop in workshop making Moon Globes for the festival attendees, followed by a second evening workshop in the barn where we experimented with the Model models to see how phases and eclipses happen. The audience was mostly families, with children ranging in age from 5 up to 14, and some adults taking part as well. The event received positive feedback from the parents involved, with some telling me the following day that their children had been experimenting themselves in the tent in the evening looking at phases for themselves, and explaining it to their parents.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019