Explore Your Universe is part of a wider strategic partnership between ASDC and STFC that brings together some of the most fascinating and diverse cutting-edge science in the country with the talents and infrastructure of the nation's largest network of dedicated science engagement organisations who together attract 20 million visitors every year.
The vision: To inspire a new sense of excitement among young people around the physical sciences by sharing the amazing stories and technologies of STFC.
'The participating scientists, the science centres and the project team should feel proud of their contribution to what has clearly been a unique, highly engaging, enjoyable and mind-changing experience. The Explore Your Universe programme met its aims of enabling a broad audience to engage with contemporary science, and also supported the capacity-building efforts and skill development of the individuals and institutions involved.'
To develop the programme, ASDC worked in partnership with engagement experts in this area from The National Space Centre and Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre as well over 70 scientists and engineers working in the physical sciences and STFC-related science. To deliver the programme, ten UK partner science centres and museums were selected, trained, equipped and supported to run the activities with their school and family visitors.
As a central part of the programme, ASDC and partners developed a bespoke, high-quality, modular set of equipment, which included over 50 items ranging from a solar telescope, thermal imaging camera and 'a particle accelerator in a salad bowl' to meteorites, a cloud chamber, a pre-loaded iPad and a piece of the particle detector at CERN. Each of the ten science centres and two STFC facilities received the equipment along with a full training and on-going support programme.
The Training Academy
The training programme included a two-day residential training academy for staff of the ten science centres where they learned to use all the equipment and to run the Explore Your Universe curriculum-linked schools workshops for 10 - 13 year olds, the bespoke masterclass for 14 - 16 year olds, the family show and meet the expert events. They were also given marketing resources, evaluation resources, all the PowerPoints and images for workshops and marketing and a full training handbook with all these resources within. ASDC also set up a bespoke website (www.exploreyouruniverse.org) and social media streams to enhance collaborations. In addition, over 50 scientists and engineers working on STFC science were trained at one-day public engagement academies and linked up with the science centres for meet the expert events.
In their first year of delivery, the ten partner science centres engaged over 122,546 children and adults in exceptional hands-on activities, experiments, schools workshops, public shows, meet the expert sessions and a variety of other events at UK science centres. As part of this, 45,852 people met an expert engineer or scientist, 59,236 took part in the half-hour family show in a science centre, and 9,400 school students aged 10-13 took part in a one hour workshop. In addition, 3,174 school students aged 14-16 spent two hours exploring the latest science in the schools masterclasses, 1,225 teachers and 3,659 young people joined activities with brownies, guides, cubs, scouts.
In addition (and not included in the numbers above), 7,866 people took part in Explore Your Universe activities at two STFC facilities and 26,468 people took part in the Stargazing and World Space Week Programmes administered by ASDC as part of this partnership - bringing the overall project total to 156,880 people.
The academic evaluation of Explore Your Universe phase 1 by experts at King's College London confirmed that the programme had indeed been highly engaging and had met its aims. Overall, the evaluation programme involved 4,895 people including 3,883 students and 369 teachers making it the UK's largest multi-centre study of the impact of informal science learning.
Evaluation results from students aged 14-16 after a workshop
King's College London assessed the impact on the first 3,883 students and 369 teachers who took part in the workshops, making it the UK's largest multi-centre dataset of the impact of informal science learning.
One notable finding was this physics programme had been successful in inspiring interest in both girls and boys in equal measure. 56% of girls and boys aged 10-13 said the workshop made them feel more interested in studying science, and 41% said it had made them more likely to consider a career in science. This effect was found after just one hour of experiments and discussions. This programme fully supports the Government's new initiative to get more girls into physics an engineering and can be used flexibly to support this and other initiatives.
81% said they would recommend this masterclass to other people their age
78% said that they had never used or rarely use this type of equipment at their school
60% said that they thought their experience in the masterclass would help them with their school science classes
43% said that the masterclass made them feel more interested in studying science
Their teachers said...
96% rated the workshop very good or good
74% said they would talk about the workshop with students when back at school
90% said they would recommend the workshop to other teachers
You can download the full evaluation report from King's here.
The ten science and discovery centres selected to take part in project are:
Project Announcement: A partnership to share the excitement of science, from atoms to astrophysics
In 2012, The UK Association for Science and Discovery Centres (ASDC) and the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) were delighted to announce the launch of a new strategic partnership bringing together some of the most fascinating and diverse science in the country with the talents and infrastructure of the nation's largest network of science engagement organisations.
The partnership began with a two-year national programme which aimed to inspire more young people across the UK with the wonders of the physical sciences by sharing the amazing stories and technologies of STFC.
Overall, the programme created a series of exceptional hands-on activities, experiments, schools workshops, public shows, meet-the-expert sessions and a variety of other events, all focussing on STFC science and giving young people the confidence, curiosity, and interest to continue to explore and ask questions long after they leave the science and discovery centres. This national project was led by ASDC in collaboration with The National Space Centre in Leicester and Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre in Cheshire.
An early stage of the project involved discussions with a variety of people from science and discovery centres, museums, STFC facilities and the Institute of Physics to identify the hugely successful physics-based activities used to engage young people. This was to inform the wider project and we were delighted to involve many people in this process.
The first output of this project was public stargazing events at science and discovery centres across the UK between March and June 2012, in partnership with local astronomy experts from the STFC-supported Dark Sky Discovery Project.
STFC is a world leader in helping humans ask and explore the really big questions. In particular, questions about the physical nature of the world around us, about ourselves and our place in the Universe. This partnership brings together the innovation, research and people of STFC with the UK's largest network of science engagement professionals.
Professor John Womersley, CEO of STFC said "This is a huge opportunity to engage young people and families in all parts of the UK with science and to share with them the inspirational ideas and research that STFC is involved with from the smallest scale work of particle physics, through the applied research that affects our everyday lives to the most enormous scale of the Universe, in astronomy and cosmology."
ASDC brings together more than 60 of the UK's major science engagement organisations including all the key science and discovery centres and science museums. The ASDC membership makes up the largest network of science engagement professionals in the UK who together engage over 20 million people each year with the wonders of science. Between them, these centres work with 385,000 members of the public every week of the year, in all parts of the UK, helping people to explore and delve into science in a hands-on, involving and personal way.
Dr Penny Fidler, the Project Director and CEO of ASDC said "We are delighted with this exciting partnership and the inspirational activities and programmes that will be created as part of it. If we truly want our nation's young people to be inspired and motivated by science and consider it as a career for their future, we need to give them astounding and creative hands-on opportunities like these so they can see how enjoyable and enlivening the questions of real science are."
16th August 2012: Bidders' conference call
Midnight on 9th September 2012: Deadline for applications
20th September 2012: Notification of success
14-15th November 2012: Science Centres Training Academy at the National Space Centre in Leicester
29th November 2012: Training academy for researchers and scientists at At-Bristol Science Centre
30th December 2012: Delivery of marketing pack
9th January 2012: Delivery of complete equipment
30th January 2013: Training academy for researchers and scientists at Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre
Summer 2013: National Meeting
15th November 2013: Deadline for delivery of all workshops by new organisations
20th November 2013: Final report from centres
20th November 2013: Final submission of evaluation
9th January 2014: Project ends and ASDC report back to STFC on outcomes
The selection process
Deadline for applications has passed.
We are now seeking ten ASDC member organisations to partner in this exciting project. These organisations will be selected through a competitive tender process.
Organisations wishing to apply should read the full invitation and information document below and then fill in the application form.
The ten participating organisations will be selected by a selection panel, made up of the following:
Dr Nick Winterbotham, Chairman of the STFC Project Management Board
Dr Penny Fidler, ASDC CEO and Project Director
Dr Michaela Livingstone, ASDC Project Manager
A senior member of STFC staff, from the STFC science and society group
Dr Teresa Anderson, CEO of Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre and Chair of the Programme's science and engagement panel
Dr Helen Featherstone, Project Manager (Public Engagement), University of Exeter
Conference call for Bidders
ASDC will hold a conference call at 2pm on 16th August 2012 to answer any questions from all potential bidders in an open manner.
Criteria for selection of the 10 partner organisations
Your organisation is a 2012 member of ASDC
You have experience of, or strong willingness to learn, about the latest in the physical sciences, including space science, particle physics and other areas of STFC science.
You have the ability and desire to embed the new workshops into your existing schools programme, and to continue to run these workshops into the future.
You have the ability and desire to embed the new workshops into your existing public programme, and to continue to run these workshops into the future.
You have strong links to local schools and teachers, and currently run curriculum-linked workshops.
Your organisation already runs science shows for the public and for families.
Your organisation has links with members of your local university, and you are looking to develop links with scientists.
You have the ability to deliver to at least 900 school students and 2000 visitors in family groups between January 2013 and November 15th 2013.
You have a marketing professional in place to promote the schools and public workshops as you feel are appropriate.
You have the desire to build new relationships with scientists and engineers linked to STFC science, including those at the UK particle accelerator facilities and CERN, UK space science based here and abroad for example at the major telescopes and research facilities worldwide.
You have the desire to use social media to connect with schools, partners and scientists on the project.
You have the ability to reach very large audiences, either in terms of school visitor numbers, or family groups and public audiences.
You have experience of running 'meet the expert' sessions and facilitating discussion between the public and research scientists.
You are willing to participate in learning and collaboration via the web, for example webinars, live link-ups, submitting videos, and blogging.
The Project Equipment
The project will provide the ten selected organisations with all the equipment they need to run all of the activities and workshops. This will include:
A thermal imaging camera
A solar telescope
A Van de Graaff Generator
A particle accelerator in a salad bowl
An iPad pre-loaded with exceptional apps for space and the physical sciences
A levitating magnet experiment (including superconductor, magnet and liquid nitrogen Dewar for those who do not currently have the facilities to store liquid Nitrogen)
A specialised optic box
A specialised materials and magnets box
The project provides flexible workshops, family show and other activities
We understand that all ASDC members are different and have different strengths and existing partnerships. We also know that every centre will want to run slightly different activities and events and will want full freedom over how they choose to run these with their visitors. We fully endorse this approach and indeed a key part of the way the project has been designed has been to maximise this flexibility. We want the ten selected centres to have the freedom to evolve these workshops if they wish to take advantage of their expertise and existing relationships with universities and others to enhance the way their audiences engage with the physical sciences.
The ten selected centres will be offered the following:
Full and detailed training on how to use all the equipment, carrying out hands-on experiments and the science behind these.
Places for two staff at the two-day residential training academy. Their travel, food and accommodation will all be paid by ASDC.
A master class for 14-16 year olds and a schools workshop for 10-13 year olds developed by a team led by the National Space Centre and National Space Academy. Both workshops are fully curriculum-linked and will involve all the equipment provided by the project.
A lively and entertaining family show for 8-13 year olds and their parents. The family show will be flexible and modular. It will be developed by a team led by the Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre with input from the National Space Centre and ASDC.
A meet the expert format, including personal introductions to some top experts.
A set of resources to use with groups of brownies and guides, cubs and scouts to help them achieve their badges.
Details and introductions to scientists involved in the project's national training programme to train 50 scientists and researchers associated with STFC programmes. This training will link these experts to the project, explore ways they can use the variety equipment to talk about their work, train them on how science centres work and share with them some methods of public engagement.
A full marketing pack, including logos and branding material, photos of the workshops for your schools leaflets and curriculum links for teachers
Forms for the project evaluation
An 'Explore Your Universe' Website, including social networking opportunities in 2013
A place at the National Meeting in mid-2013 to share with all the other centres that are running activities
All the project's resources will be licensed under creative commons (attribution). To allow centres and scientists to keep innovating together and to find ever more brilliant ways to engage school students and the public with the physical sciences, we ask that all participating centres share any new activities that evolve from the project in the same spirit of collaboration.
Commitments of the TEN selected organisations
The TEN selected organisations will need to commit to the following:
To embed the workshops and public activities into your schools and public programme and run them into the future.
To engage the prescribed number of participants by running the target number of workshops between January 11th 2013 and November 15th 2013, as outlined below.
To have a quality control system in place that maintains the integrity of the science into the future.
To ensure two members of staff participate fully in the training academy*
To market the workshops in accordance to guidelines given by ASDC and the project team
To ensure two members of staff participate in the National Meeting to share best practice in 2013.
*Organisations wishing to apply should refer to the training and delivery schedule to ensure that their chosen members of staff on this project are available to attend the academies and keep to other deadlines.
Numbers of participants you will need to engage
The ten selected ASDC members will need to commit to engaging the following numbers of people via the specified mechanisms between January 11th 2013 and November 15th 2013. Please note, that it is the overall numbers of people that are your target, and we give the numbers of workshops and shows as a guide. We appreciate that schools groups vary in size and that every centre delivers family shows to vastly different sized audiences at weekends and holidays. Each centre should tell us how they will play to their strengths and deliver in a way that suits them.
Target 1: Schools workshops: 900 students
We recommend this would be as follows:
12 masterclasses for 14-16 year olds with 25 students in each (=300 students)
20 schools workshops for 10-13 year olds with 30 students in each class (=600 students)
Target 2: Family Shows: 2000 children and adults
Have a space-themed or physics-themed special season, running the show for families at weekends for three months (35 people per show, three times each day on Saturday and Sunday, x 13 weeks = 2730 people)
Run the family show over the Easter holidays (16 days) and a half term (nine days) = 25 days. (35 people per show, three times each day x 25 days = 2625 people)
Run the show with 70 people once a day for four weeks of the summer holiday (=1680 people) and then take the show to a science festival and run variations of it seven times with 50 people (=350 people) totaling 2030 people
Target 3: Meet the expert events:
Ten days of events reaching an audience of approximately 5000 people*
You are free to mix and match the audience and location for these meet the expert events. For example, your activities could be families during weekends and holidays meeting the experts on the busy exhibition floor, or perhaps events within your local science festival or city hall. You might also want to include these meet the expert activities as part of a big schools event or competition, or to celebrate World Space Week in October, or as part of a special evening event for adults such as a research-themed evening, stargazing night or even alongside a lecture or cafe scientifique. One option is outlined below:
As part of an 'Explore your Universe' special season, you could invite scientists from your local university, or ask researchers and engineers from the project to meet your visitors using the project's amazing equipment as a talking point. If two scientists are talking to visitors on a busy floor from 10am -4pm, and each talks to a family of four for ten minutes, whilst another four people look on and listens, they will engage 96 people per hour. Across six hours they will have interacted with 576 people. Running ten days of events over the holidays will reach 5760 people.
*Please note, we appreciate that 5000 is a large number of people. If you prefer to engage fewer people more 'deeply' with the researchers please tell us what you plan, and details of your target audience.
Target 4: Brownies and Guides, Cubs and Scouts
We would like a commitment from all the partners to explore ways to engage more Brownies and Guides, Cubs and Scouts through the project in a way that works for each centre. Ideally you will use the new equipment and activities with your existing groups of Brownies and Guides, Cubs and Scouts to inspire them with the latest science whilst cultivating new relationships. In addition we hope many centres will consider running sleepovers and activity badges with these groups as part of the project. ASDC would like to discuss the options with the ten centres once they are selected and will look to promote the activities nationally with Brownies, Guides, Cubs and Scouts to drive visits to their centres. In time we would like 1000 Brownies, Guides, Cubs and Scouts to be linked to the stories and science of STFC via each partner centres via the web resources and directly through activities.