The UK Association for Science and Discovery Centres is delighted to work in partnership with the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) to create and deliver an exciting national STEM programme ‘Operation Earth’.
In total, 201,639 children and adults participated in the Operation Earth activities and programmes for families. in the first Phase. Of these, 89,742 participated in the Operation Earth family show, and 37,145 met and talked to one or more environmental scientists in ‘meet the expert’ events. We are now delivering Phase 2 working with communities across the UK in ways that allow for engagement during Covid.
The vision of this national programme is to engage inspire and involve families with school-age children and communities across the UK with the amazing stories, science and people of NERC’s world-leading environmental research, highlighting the relevance of contemporary environmental science issues to people’s daily lives and to society's future.
In partnership with NERC, the Natural History Museum, Dynamic Earth and Eden Project and a wide range of other experts from across academia and the NERC research centres, ASDC created, developed and delivered an inspirational suite of hands-on activities, experiments and demonstrations for families to be delivered in Science Centres and Museums, including a bespoke wearable ‘Earthy suit’. ASDC also created a new interactive ‘Operation Earth’ family show and a series of busking activities, a meet the expert format and introductions to environmental scientists, a website, social media channels, project branding and a set of marketing assets along with a bespoke training handbook.
ASDC then selected, trained and equipped eleven Science Centres and Museums in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to deliver the full Operation Earth Programme. This included bringing their staff together for a two-day Training Academy to learn all aspects of the programme including running the shows and activities, using and maintaining the equipment, training on the latest environmental science, and a guide to behavioural psychology as it relates to climate conversations. ASDC continued to support the Centres during their delivery period, answering questions and introducing them to experts.
ASDC also ran a similar national training academy for over 40 environmental researchers which took place at the Natural History Museum.
Operation Earth Phase 1 launched in UK Science Centres and Museums on February 10th 2018, and delivery continued across the summer until the October half-term 2018. Overall the programme began in January 2017, and completed in January 2019 with an aim to reach 100,000 children and adults in family groups.
Phase 2 is now underway which aims to inspire children, families and communities about climate change, the environment and earth observation including how scientists are using space and satellites to understand changes to our climate here on Earth.
Operation Earth Phase 2 will take place across 7 UK science and discovery centres in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Cheshire, Leicester, Birmingham, Belfast and Wrexham.
All the Science and Discovery Centres that are and have delivered the project are as follows:
Catalyst Science Centre
Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre
Natural History Museum
National Space Centre
Oxford University Museum of Natural History
The Observatory Science Centre
Glasgow Science Centre
Project Director and CEO of ASDC, Dr Penny Fidler, said:
“If we truly want our nation’s young people to be inspired and motivated by environmental science and consider it as a career for their future, we need to give them imaginative and creative hands-on opportunities like these so they can see how enjoyable the questions and challenges of real science are. We are delighted to be working with NERC and to have together selected ten fantastic Science Centres to deliver this inspirational national STEM programme.”
NERC’s Director of Corporate Affairs, Alison Robinson, said:
“At NERC we are thrilled that environmental science is at the heart of this national engagement programme. Our science reaches across the globe and into all parts of our daily lives. This programme gives young people and families a hands-on way to get involved with some world-class NERC science and see how it is relevant to them. We hope everyone who takes part will be inspired to get involved in the debate around environmental science as a great way to help solve some of our big future challenges.”
In total, 201,639 children and adults participated in the Operation Earth activities and programmes for families. Of these, 89,742 participated in the Operation Earth family show, and 37,145 met and talked to one or more environmental scientists in ‘meet the expert’ events.
Throughout Operation Earth, we aimed to create a step-change in the way Science Centres and Museums deliver the latest science around the environment, making the science more cutting-edge and engaging, building relationships with researchers and helping centres to embrace more challenging topics around climate and other global issues with members of the public who may not be initially receptive to this science.
The programme evaluation was undertaken by an independent academic with a specialism in informal Science Learning in environmental science, who analysed the responses of 1,130 children and 665 adults (1,795 people in total) who had taken part in The Operation Earth shows and activities.