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Out of this world experience at local libraries

On the 20th July 1969 the Apollo 11 lunar module successfully landed on the Moon and Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong became the first people to walk on the rocky surface. Fifty years later and their exciting story is still being told and continues to inspire people across the world.

As part of a variety of events run by STFC to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission, our public engagement teams have been telling the moon landing story in a series of interactive sessions across local libraries. These free events have involved an exciting storytelling session, followed by craft activities and the opportunity to hold real-life meteorites.

Over the summer holidays, staff from the STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory have run 14 storytelling sessions at local libraries across Oxfordshire and Berkshire reaching around 400 people. During the storytelling the 384,000 km distance between the Earth and the Moon was demonstrated on a small scale, allowing people to better understand the length and feat of the eight day mission. Activities afterwards included making moons and building Lego lunar landers.

Lauren Mowberry, the STFC public engagement officer who led the events said:

“The sessions are a fantastic way to engage with new audiences in a different setting. Great stories naturally inspire curiosity and the Apollo 11 mission does just that! People of all ages interacted with the story, got involved in the activities and were fascinated by the meteorites we were able to show them. Overall it has been incredible to see so many young people discovering or furthering their love for science and technology; a very rewarding experience.”

People who attended were also enthusiastic, with an attendee giving the following feedback: “Excellent event, really engaging and an amazing storytelling.”

Meanwhile, staff from STFC’s Daresbury Laboratory ran four sessions across Halton and Warrington boroughs, reaching approximately 120 people. These events attracted an impressive age range, from three-year-old children up to grandparents, the latter who could remember the moon landing actually taking place. People who took the opportunity to hold the meteorites expressed surprise at their weight, with one child remarking that they’d “learnt that space rocks are really heavy.”

The events were held in association with the Reading Agency’s Space Chase reading challenge, which encourages children to read at least six books over the summer break. One attendee at Halton Library commented “I would like to read more about it”, suggesting the event had been successful in inspiring them to learn more about the Apollo 11 mission and space science.

Inspiring young people and the wider public is a key value of the work of STFC and is partly achieved through our dedicated programme of public engagement - a big thank you to the public engagement team and STEM ambassadors who made these events a success!


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Last updated: 04 September 2019

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