Communicating STFC Research using a Mobile Planetarium

Lead Research Organisation: University of Warwick
Department Name: Physics


We aim to enhance our outreach programme in STFC science areas to target 8 to14 year olds (Year 4 to Year 10) more effectively in line with the Wonder Initiative. The Wonder Initiative aims to connect people from all backgrounds with science and technology. It is all about giving under-served communities an equal voice by listening, understanding and responding to what people want to know about science and technology. As a result of this, the Initiative focuses on working with participants from the most socioeconomically deprived areas of the UK, with a particular focus on 8 to 14 year olds and their families and carers. Coventry is considered to have areas of great socioeconomic deprivation with a large percentage of children coming from homes where no one has considered or attended university for higher education. Overall, young people from areas of greater socioeconomic deprivation have less access to engagement opportunities and as a result, typically have less exposure to science-related knowledge. This has become even more prevalent over the course of the pandemic.

It is widely known that children make decisions about their career choices as early as primary school. During these years, there is a tendency for gender differences and cultural differences where access to STEM rich environments can have a strong influence on choice. Therefore, we have chosen to target 8 to 14 year olds as research has shown less exposure to science-related knowledge at this age shapes a young person's outlook and could dissuade them from a career in STEM. We believe that a mobile planetarium provides the ideal platform to deliver immersive, engaging and hence memorable talks on STFC research to this age group.

Planned Impact

Our Ogden School Teacher Fellow (Mrs Ally Caldecote) and the Institute for Engagement within the University have excellent contacts with local/regional schools and with their counterparts at other HEIs in the region. Ally also networks through the Ogden Trust, which part-funds her position. We will also encourage our regular planetarium speakers to register as STEM ambassadors, allowing us to become part of the wider STEM community and network with other schools. Once we have proven the concept of research talks in a mobile planetarium we plan to work with our partners in the Midlands Physics Alliance (MPA) to develop content in a wider range of STFC science areas.


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