Your Place in the Universe

Lead Research Organisation: Durham University
Department Name: Physics


The primary aim of this proposal is to support the design, construction and delivery of a new exhibit, Your Place in the Universe. This exhibit will be taken to a range of events over a 20-month period at which it will be seen by more than 32,000 members of the public, including school pupils of all ages. Around half of the visitors will be from the North East of England which has one of the lowest participation rates in university level education in the UK. There will be seven externally organised events and around 10 school visits over the 20 month period.

The main event driving the production of our new outreach exhibit is the Royal Society's Summer Science exhibition 2020. We are one of around 20 exhibits selected in a national competition from all areas of science from around 100 entries.

In addition to reaching a substantial number of visitors, around half of whom will be primary and secondary school age pupils from some of the most deprived postcodes in the country, our project will train a new cadre of STFC PhD students and early career researchers to deliver STEM outreach, becoming STEM developers and influencers.

Planned Impact

We will publish a report on our exhibit to advertise the materials. For Summer Science 2016, a report was published in an open access journal (Galaxy Makers Exhibition: Re-engagement, Evaluation and Content Legacy through an Online Component, Borrow, J., & Harrison, C., Communicating Astronomy with the Public Journal, Volume 22, p.9, J . Borrow gave an oral presentation on this work at the European Week of Astronomy and Astrophysics, 2018, Liverpool. We will set up a dedicated web site for the exhibit and will also disseminate results and advertise activity through social media e.g the ICC twitter feed @DarkerMatters.

The digital content of our exhibit will be made available on line and the exhibit itself could then be replicated by other STFC groups or astronomical societies and outreach organisations with a relatively modest investment in equipment (eg. a poster and some iPads). Software produce will be made open source and released through GitHub.

Our exhibit will also be disseminated to North East school teachers by the Durham University Science Outreach team, which regularly invites teaching into the Department of Physics for refresher and training events.


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