Phase 2 of Explore Your Universe built on the successes of Explore Your Universe Phase 1. For Phase 2, ASDC developed a two-year national programme which would support the Explore Your Universe network to inspire more young people and strengthen and develop the partnerships between centres, scientists, engineers and the UK network as a whole. Phase 2, which ran from March 2014 - March 2016, engaged 184,834 children and adults, in schools workshops and family activities and shows across the UK.
The vision: To inspire a new sense of excitement amongst young people around the physical sciences by sharing the amazing stories and technologies of STFC and to increase the number and breadth of young people who are inspired to explore the physical sciences by expanding, supporting and further developing the highly successful ‘Explore Your Universe’ national strategic programme.
ASDC selected 10 centres (5 science centres and 5 universities) to deliver this high-end physics and engineering programme across the UK along with the previous 10 centres who took part in Phase 1.
ASDC and the project partners trained all the ten Phase 2 delivery partners at a training academy in October 2014 at the National Space Centre. Two staff members from each partner were trained on all aspects of the Explore Your Universe equipment, schools workshops, family show and other resources. The centres then started to implement the Explore Your Universe programme into their schools and public programmes.
ASDC led conference calls with all programme partners which enabled up-to-date information about STFC research to be disseminated to science centres and universities, and passed on directly to tens of thousands of members of the public and school children. Topics have included Gaia and Rosetta, future materials and the Solar Eclipse of March 20th. These conference calls have proved to be a popular tool for information sharing among the delivery partners.
The partners were delighted with the additional STFC funding in March 2015 which allowed Phase 2 partners to expand their Explore Your Universe equipment and increase the impact of their deliveries. This has further strengthened the programme delivery and impact.
In January 2015, ASDC also organised for all 22 Explore Your Universe delivery partners and the development team from Phase 1 & 2 to visit to CERN through funding from STFC. Throughout this trip, the 22 delivery partners were able to share their latest knowledge and methods of delivering Explore Your Universe, and explore the latest technologies and science with a unique opportunity to see inside the detector at CMS before the accelerator was due to become active. Images from this trip are now being used by each centre in their Explore Your Universe programmes as staff discuss their CERN experience directly with schools and families.
Each partner was required as part of their contract to submit a final report in November 2015 detailing everything they had delivered as part of their Phase 2 Explore Your Universe programme. Phase 1 partners were also requested to provide details to ASDC of their continuing delivery of the Explore Your Universe programme.
We are delighted to report that overall, the ten Phase 2 delivery partners reached 77,143 people, and the original Phase 1 science centres continued delivering their Explore Your Universe programme to another 107,691 children and adults. Together they reached 184,834 people and demonstrated the effectiveness of Explore Your Universe and its robust legacy.
This brings the total number of members of the public and schools who have taken part in the Explore Your Universe programme to 341,714.
Explore Your Universe Phase 2 aimed to reach 75,000 people through 10 new delivery partners. It was also estimated that 75,000 people would be engaged via the continuing work of the Phase 1 partners.
Overall the Phase 2 partners exceeded these targets and delivered to 77,143 people including public and school audiences at a wide range of events throughout the UK. Phase 1 partners reported that they had delivered Explore Your Universe related materials and used Explore Your Universe equipment in activities engaging 107,691 people.
Phase 2 of Explore Your Universe was independently evaluated by academics at Bristol University, led by Professor Justin Dillon. They evaluated the responses of over 1500 school children who took part in the schools workshops, and 182 families who took part in the family show and found that:
79% of 10 - 13 year olds stated that they were more interested in studying science after participating in the Explore Your Universe schools workshop.
71% of 14 - 16 year olds stated that they were more interested in studying science after participating in the Explore Your Universe schools masterclass.
Interest in a career in science rose from 29% before the workshop to 61% after the Explore Your Universe schools workshop with 10 - 13 year olds.
97% of teachers of 10 - 13 year olds would recommend the workshops to other teachers.
62% of all school students (aged 10 - 16) said they were more interested in a career in science after participating in an Explore Your Universe schools workshop.
86% of children taking part with their families, said they were more interested in science after taking part in the family show.
On average, there was a greater impact on girls who took part in the Explore Your Universe curriculum-linked schools masterclass. For girls, their interest in a career in science was 45% before the masterclass rising to 68% after the workshop.
You can find out more about the evaluation process and download the full report here.
Phase 2 was launched in May 2014, and in June 2014 ten new Explore Your Universe delivery partners were selected following an open call. These included five science centres and five Universities. These ten delivery partners are:
University of Manchester - School of Physics and Astronomy
University of Newcastle partnered with Tyne and Wear Museums
University of Northumbria
University of Warwick
University of York
‘Explore Your Universe: from Atoms to Astrophysics’ is a cutting-edge national strategic science engagement programme developed and delivered by The Association for Science and Discovery Centres (ASDC) in partnership with the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and other experts.
Over 11 months the project reached 156,800 people with engaging, hands-on experiences of contemporary physical sciences and engineering.
Building on the success of this project we will soon be launching phase 2, to welcome more organisations to take part in this highly dynamic network, and continue to reach for the projects vision ‘to inspire a new sense of excitement among young people around the physical sciences by sharing the amazing stories and technologies of STFC’.
Explore Your Universe 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.
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. 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.
ASDC also set up a bespoke website (www.exploreyouruniverse.org) to host all the resources 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.
A further 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.
Elements of Explore Your Universe are now embedded in the activities and workshops at science centres across the UK who will continue to celebrate STFC science into the future.
“The kit we received is of the highest quality and has been commented on by science teachers. Teachers have also reported that their pupils are really enthusiastic about the workshops – even those that are usually uninterested in science. I would congratulate the team that created this project – it has become one of our best received projects” - Louise Smith, Dundee Science Centre.
Phase 2 will continue to support the existing network, and welcome ten further organisations, to provide training and resources to support high-quality engagement with frontier research, as well as the opportunity to explore approaches to engagement with the physical sciences, reaching wider audiences, increasing STEM careers awareness and building family capital.
Phase 2 will be launched on 1 May 2014. For further details please email the project manager, Dr Michaela Livingstone.
10th June 2014: Bidders’ conference call
25 June 2014 (11pm): Deadline for Applications
4 July 2014: Notification of success
9th July 2014: Delivery of Fundraising Pack, to secure funding for all the hands-on equipment you want and of complete equipment lists, purchasing guides and all electronic resources
16 & 17 October at the National Space Centre in Leicester: Science Centres Training Academy (and provision of handbook and all resources)
19 November 2013 at the Rutherford Appleton laboratory, Oxfordshire: National Meeting 2014 to bring together the whole UK network
20 November 2014 - 20 November 2015: Delivery window (for the purpose of reporting)
20th January 2015: Interim report to ASDC - summary of your plans and delivered activities
30th April 2015: Reporting deadline 1 (giving all your activity numbers and evaluation data to date to ASDC)
Summer 2015 at STFC's Cosener’s House, Oxfordshire: Innovation Day 2015
Winter 2015: National Meeting 2015 to bring together the whole UK network
20th November 2015: Final submission of your evaluation and report to ASDC
7th February 2016: Project ends and ASDC reports back to STFC on national programme.
The selection process
Applications are now closed. Details of the application process are below for reference only.
The ten participating organisations will be selected through a competitive tender process.
The selection panel
The ten participating organisations will be selected by a selection panel, made up of the following people:
Project Director, Dr Penny Fidler
Management Board Chair, Dr Nick Winterbotham
STFC Representative, Dr Neville Hollingworth
Current Explore Your Universe centre, TBC
The following organisations are eligible to apply:
Other types of organisation, including commercial organisations, are welcome to apply and must meet the following criteria:
Your organisation has an existing programme engaging schools and families with science (or STEM)
Your organisation has a team dedicated to inspiring and involving people with science.
You have the Infrastructure within your organisation, or through a partnership, sufficient to deliver science engagement activities now, and in to the future.
Priority will be given to organisations that:
Demonstrate a strong track record in delivering high quality science engagement activities to public and school audiences
Have access to publically accessible venues for the majority of the year
Ensure the quality of both the science and the engagement of all your activities
Demonstrate experience of, or strong willingness to learn, about the latest in the physical sciences, across all areas of STFC science
Have the ability to reach very large audiences, either in terms of school visitor numbers, or family groups and public audiences
Have the ability to reach a wide range of audiences, especially girls and under-represented groups
Demonstrate the ability and desire to embed the new workshops and activities into your existing schools and public programme, and to continue to run these workshops into the future
Employ innovative engagement approaches
Demonstrate strong links to local schools and teachers
Can show links with members of your local university, or can demonstrate a willingness to develop links with scientists and engineers (if applicable)
That collect data on the number of participants involved in its activities and routinely collect both formative and summative evaluation data to assure quality
Demonstrate a willingness to share evaluation and learning from activities with the network
Have a marketing professional (or equivalent) in place to promote the schools and public workshops as appropriate
Have the desire to use social media to connect with schools, partners and scientists on the project
Have experience of running 'meet the expert' sessions and facilitating discussion between the public and research scientists (or desire to do this)
Are keen to participate in learning and collaboration via the web, for example conference calls/webinars, live link-ups, submitting videos, and contributing to the discussion forum
The goal of this project is to give students and families across the UK the opportunity to explore the physical sciences through high-quality, engaging hands-on experiences.
When making the selection of the ten centres quality and reach will be the biggest factor, however, in the case of all other aspects being equal, the geographical spread of the ten partners across the UK will be taken into consideration. To make these workshops sustainable we aim to avoid organisations competing for the same audiences. These considerations will include the 10 existing Explore Your Universe centres.
University departments, learned societies and others
Explore Your Universe Phase 2 is open to a variety of organisations that meet the criteria covered in this document. For universities and learned societies in particular we believe this would mean, for example, having a person dedicated to public engagement and/or informal science learning. For organisations that don't employ scientists and engineers this would mean demonstrating the ability to collaborate with researchers, engineers, etc.
Information for researchers and freelancers
If you are an academic and would like to get involved, please discuss a partnership with your public engagement / outreach department or phone ASDC. If you are a freelancer with a background in physics, ask your science centre or university, or other, to see if you might submit an application as a partnership.
We welcome applications from a range of organisations who can work in partnership to meet the eligibility and selection criteria. If you plan on applying as a partnership, or are a commercial organisation, please contact ASDC to discuss.
The programme will offer the 10 new selected centres the following:
Bespoke, piloted, flexible and curriculum-linked workshop for school students aged 10-13
Bespoke, piloted, flexible and curriculum-linked masterclass for school students aged 14-16.
An inspiring, exciting and flexible family show format
Training and support to provide your staff with everything they need to know to deliver highly engaging hands-on activities around the latest in the physical sciences, including: A two-day, in-depth residential training academy for two staff, the highly commended Explore Your Universe project handbook, on-going over-the-phone support, joining the Explore Your Universe network, with access to expertise from across the nation
A fundraising pack and all the information and support for your organisation to purchase the exceptional set of adaptable hands-on equipment (cost approximately £9,000 for the full kit or less if you already own elements such as the thermal imaging camera, solar telescope and liquid nitrogen storage).
Images, logos and other materials for marketing your workshops and family shows
Introductions and links to researchers, scientists and engineers to support meet-the-expert activities
A number of resources and training to help you reach wider audiences and advice on celebrating the amazing careers in engineering, space science and the physical sciences to engage both young people and their families
Invitations to all of our face-to-face and virtual training and networking opportunities, including: access to the online discussion forum, monthly newsletter, regular specialist conference calls, two Annual National Meetings, Innovation Days
Up to date news, stories and press releases directly from STFC to inspire your activities and link to contemporary research
Evaluation forms and guidance on using them
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 have a quality control system in place that maintains the integrity of the science you deliver into the future.
To deliver the range of the programme, from particle physics to space science celebrating the range of STFC science.
That, with bespoke support from ASDC including equipment lists, supplier contact lists, and on the phone advice, your organisation will commit to purchasing the kit needed for the programme. Buying the equipment directly from suppliers, ensures your organisations has ownership of the equipment and warrantees and can take advantage of your VAT status. The cost of the full kit will be £9,000* and ASDC will provide a fundraising pack to assist you in securing these funds from funders, engineering companies or industry or from your own organisations. ASDC will also work with you to discuss if you currently own suitable equipment (such as a thermal imaging camera) and reduce the cost.
To ensure two members of staff participate fully in the training academy**
To participate in networking opportunities and share ideas and best practice with the national network
To share information with the project manager for the purposes of reporting and evaluation in a timely manner
To market the workshops in accordance with the guidelines (largely to use the logo and ensure the science messages are accurate)
* If you reach 7,500 people, the cost to a funder of investing £9000 will be just £1.20 per head.
**Organisations wishing to apply should refer to the training and delivery schedule later in this document to ensure that their chosen members of staff on this project are available to attend the academies and deliver to other deadlines.
We recommend that organisations interested in applying aim to fundraise £9,000 to cover the costs of purchasing the Explore Your Universe kit as well as travel to the training academy, and attending national meetings.
Paid for by Applicant
Equipment procurement - £8,500*
Travel to training academy, national meeting and innovation days (£500)
*please note that the current estimated price to purchase the full set of equipment is £8,500 however, if you do not require all the items this would decrease. For example, if you already own a solar telescope and infrared camera it would be around £6,000.
Paid for by ASDC / Explore Your Universe
Fundraising pack showing the impact of the programme
Marketing pack ( including marketing images and press releases)
Training academy delegate fee
Training academy accommodation
All Workshops, shows and activity resources
Project training handbook
Equipment lists, supplier negotiation and bespoke support
Project support, conference calls and on-going training
National Meeting and innovation day delegate fees
Website and project communications (including newsletter)
The key audiences
The recent ASPIRES report (2013) recommends targeting activities to primary aged children saying that " the current focus of most activities and interventions at secondary school is likely to be too little too late" (See ASPIRES Implications and messages for Policy and Practice).
The key audiences for this national programme are:
School students aged 7-16 in formal curriculum-linked activities and their teachers
Young people aged 7-13 learning about the physical sciences in informal contexts with their families (building family science capital)
Specific target groups who are underrepresented in STEM in a variety of ways, for example: Girls and young women, students in schools that are underperforming (disadvantaged students, challenged schools), female scientists, technicians and engineers acting as role models
Numbers of participants you commit to engage
We have committed to engaging 150,000 people over two years across the ten new (Phase 2) centres and the ten existing science centres in the Explore Your Universe network.
To reach these numbers we would expect each new organisation to deliver activities to 7,500 people over 12 months and have included some suggestions below on how this might be achieved. Greater reach is looked upon favourably.
If you would like to apply but are unsure about reaching these numbers, please call us for advice.
Schools workshops: 900 students
e.g.: 12 masterclasses for 14-16 year olds with 25 students in each (=300 students)
e.g.: 20 schools workshops for 10-13 year olds with 30 students in each class (=600 students)
Family Shows and other activities: 4,600 children and adults
Run the family show over the Easter holidays (16 days) and a half term (nine days) = 25 days. (35 people per show, 3 times each day x 25 days = 2625 people)
Run the show with 70 people once a day for 4 weeks of the summer holiday (=1680 people) and take the show to a science festival and run variations of it seven times with 50 people (=350 people) totalling 2030 people
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)
Meet the expert events: 2000 people
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 two days of events over the holidays will reach 1,152 people.
Examples of other ways you could reach large audiences are through:
Regional and national STEM fairs
Special events at community centres
Badged group jamborees
TOTAL: 7,500 people overall, with around 2000 meeting an expert
In return for the training and support that this project offers we simply ask that you provide some very basic information as part of reporting, detailed below.
We will collect data twice on:
The numbers of schools students you have engaged, and their ages/ school class
the numbers of people at the family events and the types of activities you are delivering
Ideally a sample showing the male / female split
Where possible we would like to collect some basic evaluation data. This will be based on simple quantitative questionnaire-style questions that will be provided to you to include as part of your existing evaluation activities. We will cover evaluation in the training academy.
Reports will be collected twice a year (the first deadline 30 April November 2015) via email. Additionally in 20 January 2015 the project manager will contact you to get a summary of your plans and activities.