Remote^3: Remote sensing by Remote schools in Remote environments.

Lead Research Organisation: University of Edinburgh
Department Name: Sch of Physics and Astronomy

Abstract

The primary aim of the Remote3 project is to inspire the next generation of students into STEM subjects and have lots and lots of fun whilst doing it!

Boulby Underground Laboratory and The University of Edinburgh will work with five chosen schools (ten teams), who will design, build and program Lego Mindstorm robots to undertake a series of challenges in the Boulby Mars Yard. The programme will be launched as part of the MINAR event (March 2020) via a live stream,- livestreams at previous MINAR events have reached many thousands of people internationally.

Schools will work with mentors from the University of Edinburgh, over 3 months (summer term), to address the project challenges. The challenges will be linked to the Boulby Underground Laboratory, and the Lego robots will perform their challenges in the mine on the Project Final Day. Schools will be chosen in remote areas of Scotland (Highlands and Islands) and students should be aged 11-12 (S1/S2).

Each robot will be faced with a series of tasks to be completed inside the NASA Mars Yard, situated more than 1 km underground at the Boulby Underground Laboratory. The students will be able to remotely control their robot from their school control room just like the Mars Rover. Teams will be encouraged to invent novel techniques to complete each task. If the parts required are not available, students are encouraged (and assisted) to design the part using CAD software which can then be 3D printed and fitted to the robots.

This will be a two-year project. An interim evaluation report, together with a re-drafting of resources / challenges based on year-one feedback, will be produced in Autumn 2020.

Planned Impact

The primary audience for the outputs of the project - the challenge resources - will be school teachers and STEM Ambassadors, who will be able to use these resources to run activities of their own as class projects or after-school clubs.

All electronic resources for the project (introductions, challenge documentation, hints and tips, etc.) will be freely available via the project website, so any school or group can use the activities as the basis for their own work. The website will also include video of the robot trials and examples of work (e.g. code, presentations). The website will be shared via social media (STFC and Edinburgh University), well-established mailing lists to schools (with in excess of 1000 subscribers) and contacts with the STEM Ambassador national network. It will also be linked from the Boulby Underground Laboratory website.

Three sets of events will allow the resources to be particularly highlighted: the launch of the project, the testing of the robots and the celebration event.

The project will be launched on a livestream as part of the MINAR (March 2020) - livestreams at previous MINAR events have reached around 100,000 people internationally. The launch will be covered by STFC media channels (social media and press) and Edinburgh University media channels. NASA participate in MINAR, and so all outputs and outcomes from the project will be shared with them. The testing and celebration events will also be highlighted by these social media and press channels. Dependant on parental permission, some of the testing and celebration events could be livestreamed. The STFC media team have said the celebration and testing events could be pitched to television shows including The One Show, Sky at Night, Blue Peter and BBC Breakfast.

An interim evaluation report will be produced at the end of the first year of the project (Autumn 2020), and a final report at the end of the project - detailing all learning outcomes. This will be available on the project website, highlighted through social media channels, and submitted for public engagement conferences such as BIG and Interact. The main audience for this report will be public engagement professionals and researchers, looking to run similar projects.

A final - but important - audience is the Mine community. Updates on the project, and the school children's progress - will be shared with the Mine, via the Mine's newsletter and social media. This will share some of the scientific work being undertaken by the lab with the miners, via an unusual story to gain people's interest.

Publications

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