The project ran in science and discovery centres across the UK from October 2021-March 2022 with the majority of activities being directly linked to COP26 in November 2021. The activities provided children and families with the opportunity to find out what environmental scientists are working on, and to practice these skills for themselves. Attendees took part in hands on activities including using a leaf blower to collect air samples and investigate air quality, looking at the carbon footprint of popular foods and learning how pollination works, as well as meeting NERC scientists. An evaluation of Operation Earth found that:
92% of attendees who provided feedback said they are now able to see a connection between climate and environmental sciences and their own lives.
85% of respondents said they are more interested in climate and environmental science topics following the activities.
83% of respondents said they were more likely to speak to family and friends about climate and environmental sciences.
Association for Science and Discovery Centres Chief Executive Shaaron Leverment said: “Operation Earth has demonstrated the crucial role that science and discovery centres, museums and eco-attractions play in delivering accessible, hands-on and place-based climate and environmental science engagement activities. Science and discovery centres and museums collaborated with local industry, key environmental researchers and policy makers across the UK. These local partnerships result in relevant and empowering experiences for schools, families and young people, supporting the Government’s agenda for levelling up and net zero."
Conor Ellis, Learning and Engagement Manager at Dynamic Earth said "Operation Earth provides incredible opportunities to ignite natural curiosity with audiences about the world around us. The Operation Earth programme helps us realise this ambition by bringing the relevance of the Earth and Environmental sciences in everyday life to the forefront of our programming with the help of NERC's world leading research and people. The project has provided our team with excellent development opportunities and helped us maximise our impact with audiences at a crucial point in global climate conversations.”
Hannah Lacey, Senior Public Engagement Programme Manager at the Natural Environment Research Council said “Operation Earth has inspired over 600,000 school aged children and their families to explore NERC’s environmental research.It has been a pleasure to work closely on this project with the Association for Science and Discovery Centres, who have continued to engage children and families throughout the challenges of COVID 19. They have also delivered innovative engagement around COP26; inspiring young people to get involved in environmental science.”
Sarah Atherton, MP for Wrexham who visited local centre Xplore! said: “It was a wonderful opportunity to see the engagement that Xplore! is facilitating within the local Wrexham community. It really highlighted the importance of engaging whole families around such a crucial issue for the modern world.”
A visual highlights report of Operation Earth can be found here.
About Operation Earth
Operation Earth is a national programme that engages and inspires school-age children and their families and communities with Natural Environment Research Council’s world-leading environmental science research. The programme highlights the relevance of contemporary environmental science issues to our daily lives and society's future. The current phase (2.5) of the Operation Earth programme aims to increase public engagement with climate and COP26, biodiversity, clean air and oceans. The programme has recently expanded to include Exeter Science Centre, Centre for Life and Science Oxford.
About the Natural Environment Research Council
The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) is the UK's main agency for funding and managing research, training and knowledge exchange in the environmental sciences. Our work covers the full range of atmospheric, Earth, biological, terrestrial and aquatic science, from the deep oceans to the upper atmosphere and from the poles to the equator.
Full list of science and discovery centres involved in Operation Earth phase 2.5: