Last Thursday (14th September) the Association of Science Discovery Centres (ASDC) announced that 11 Science Centres across the UK had been selected to deliver a brand new programme of science discovery in association with the National Environment Research Council (NERC). Entitled ‘Operation Earth’, the programme is a two-year-long national project that will engage, inspire and involve school-age children and their families with NERC’s world-leading environmental science research.
ASDC and the central project team will be creating the activities, experiments, and family shows, preparing an experiments training manual, purchasing all of the hands-on equipment and arranging delivery to the successful centres. They will also be training staff fromthe participating science centres and NERC researchers to use all the resources to the best effect.
In a unique cross border collaboration between Techniquest Glyndŵr in Wrexham and Catalyst in Widnes, preparations are now under way to jointly deliver hands-on activities, experiments, public shows and ‘meet-the-expert sessions’ for children and families in both centres and in the community. They include a planet Earth costume with its very own ice cap, a real-life experiment to demonstrate ocean acidification, sensors to measure air quality and microscopes to explore living things.
The activities aim to give young people and their families the confidence, curiosity, and interest to continue to explore and ask questions long after they leave the Science and Discovery centres.
Operation Earth is due to begin in both centres in early 2018 and will continue until October 2018.
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.”
Scot Owen, Education Manager at Techniquest Glyndŵr commented,
“We were so pleased to be selected to deliver the Operation Earth programme, especially since we were collaborating with Catalyst our neighbouring Science Discovery Centre in England to prepare a joint bid to the programme. This enabled us to capitalise on our various strengths so that together we could be considered alongside rather larger and well known centres such as the Science Museum in London or the Dynamic Earth Centre in Edinburgh.
This good news is especially timely since we will be opening our new outdoor Science Garden to the public later this month and we will be able to take advantage of some of the features incorporated within the garden to include in the Operation Earth programme.
With this latest success we have been able to bring this important UK National programme to North Wales complementing our other recent achievement of being selected to deliver another UK wide ASDC programme “The Secret World of Gases”
In 2018 we celebrate our 15th year of operation and with these two new programmes we have plenty to look forward to next year.
Lucinda Lewis, Education Manager at Catalyst said
“I am delighted to discover that we have been successful in our bid to deliver the NERC sponsored “Operation Earth” shows and workshops.
We have a number of interactives within our hands on gallery, sponsored by local industry, based on environmental sciences. The introduction of presenter led programmes on this theme will be a great addition to our inspirational offer for visitors.
We have built a fantastic relationship with Techniquest Glyndwr and collaboration on this project will allow families and schools from the North West and North Wales to get involved, maximising the opportunities for our communities.”