The 2019B call for STFC Public Engagement Spark Awards opens for applications on Monday 9 September 2019 and closes at 16:00 on Thursday 24 October 2019.
STFC Spark Award holders undertake high quality programmes of novel public engagement that inspire and involve target audiences with stories of STFC science and technology.
Proposed engagement programmes must clearly focus around the remit of the STFC science programme (astronomy, solar and planetary science, particle physics, particle astrophysics, cosmology, nuclear physics and accelerator science) or clearly and demonstrably align to the science and technology work of STFC’s national and international laboratories and facilities.
Spark Awards will not be awarded unless there is a strong and demonstrable link between the proposed activities and STFC science and technology.
Applicants should use their Case for Support to clearly explain how their Spark Award furthers the aims of the STFC Public Engagement Strategy.
Applications that highlight the social, ethical, and economic benefits of research are welcomed.
Applicants are encouraged to propose novel or innovative approaches towards engagement as part of their Spark Award, as long as these are demonstrably well-planned.
STFC focuses heavily on evaluation and applicants must provide a clear evaluation plan showing details of how the outputs, outcomes and impacts of the Spark Award will be captured and evaluated. As outlined in section 1.7.2 we require applicants to report on the outcomes of their Spark Award in line with the STFC Public Engagement Evaluation Framework, which describes our approach towards effective engagement. We suggest that applicants should familiarise themselves with the STFC Public Engagement Evaluation Framework and consider how the Framework could be used to evaluate their engagement programme.
We encourage applications that propose engagement with audiences considered to have low ‘science capital’. Applicants may choose which audiences to engage with, and the methods of engagement. These must be outlined in the Case for Support.
The Wonder initiative is about giving under-served communities an equal voice by listening, understanding, and responding to what people want to know about science and technology. Wonder marks a long-term commitment by STFC public engagement to move our focus towards audience-driven public engagement with under-served communities in the most socioeconomically-deprived areas of the UK. Financial support via Spark Awards will become a key part of the Wonder initiative.
The target audience for Wonder is defined according to Indices of Multiple Deprivation. Specifically, STFC are interested in supporting audience-driven engagement that works with audiences, particularly those 8-14 years old and their families and carers, from the 40% most socioeconomically-deprived areas of the UK.
STFC define the 40% most socioeconomically-deprived areas of the UK as those areas listed in the bottom two quintiles of the Indices of Multiple Deprivation for the respective part of the UK.
Applicants are explicitly invited to submit Spark Awards that work with the Wonder target audience. Details of how to highlight this in a Case for Support are provided in section 2.2.1, and attendant modifications to our peer review process are outlined in section 2.4.1.
The following costs are ineligible for support via Spark Awards:
For applicants from or for schools, please note the following:
For applicants from or for schools, please note that requests for the following are ineligible:
We will only consider funding digital content (e.g. websites, videos etc.) as an intrinsic part of a wider engagement programme. Any application for digital content needs to include:
Organisations that apply must produce annual financial report & accounts prepared and/or submitted by a qualified account who is a member of a recognised professional accountancy body: including:
If this does not describe your organisation, you must work in partnership with an organisation that can receive the funding on your behalf.
Almost anyone can apply for a Spark Award, including grant funded researchers, STFC scientists and engineers, facility users, schools, museums, science communicators, and amateur astronomy groups.
The Principal Applicant must be eligible to apply on behalf of the organisation that would hold the award.
Every application must include a researcher in an STFC-funded area of science or technology. While these researchers often play an active role in delivering the engagement activities, this is not mandatory – they may act as an advisor on the scientific content.
If applicants have any questions about applicant eligibility, please contact the Public Engagement Team and we will advise on how you may proceed.
Applicants may apply for a Spark Award for any new idea, or to resubmit a previous application that can demonstrate it has addressed feedback received during the peer review process.
Applicants seeking funding for the continuation or evolution of a programme previously funded by STFC should apply for a Legacy Award.
The maximum funding available for a Spark Award is £15,000. Spark Awards do not come under the Full Economic Cost (fEC) framework, and thus £15,000 is absolute limit. Any award we make will be the maximum amount payable, and will include any VAT payable.
For details of other STFC Public Engagement funding schemes please visit the Public Engagement Grants home page.
The Spark Award scheme has no capital budget, thus applicants cannot request funds under the Equipment heading: items of equipment dedicated to the project and costing less than £10,000 should be requested under the ‘Other Costs’ heading. Please note that any bid for expensive hardware or equipment will not be funded unless they can be shown to be intrinsic to the project.
Other than restrictions around equipment, there are no set restrictions on the type of costs that may be applied for. For example, contributions to salaries (where a named individual will undertake work that would not be considered part of their normal duties), cost of materials, and travel & subsistence are eligible.
An applicant may wish to request funding for a Spark Award as an STFC contribution to a larger overall public engagement programme. An applicant must make this clear in their Case for Support.
In these circumstances, applicants must clearly indicate where the additional source(s) of funding for the overall project are being secured from. Whenever possible, applicants should have secured this additional funding before seeking a contribution from STFC. If this is not possible, applicants must provide details of when further funding will be secured.
STFC reserves the right to reject an application that does not have convincing plans for securing all required funding, or to temporarily withhold funding for successful applications until such time that proof of the required additional funding has been secured.
Applications can vary in duration but would normally be expected to be for up to 36 months in duration. Applications to the 2018B call are not expected to start before 1 February 2019.
|Call Activity||Indicative Timetable|
|Call announced||9 September 2019|
|Call closes||24 October 2019 at 16.00|
|Application volume to Panel||November 2019|
|Panel assessment meeting||December 2019|
|Awards Announcements||January 2020|
|PE Spark Awards start||From 1 February 2020 onwards|
STFC intends this scheme to be flexible and reserves the right to deal, as it thinks fit, with application of unusual character and to waive any rule at its absolute discretion.
STFC Public Engagement Spark Awards are governed by the grant conditions as set out in the Research Grants Handbook, unless otherwise stated. Applications are accepted and awards are made on the understanding that research organisations and award holders agree to observe the terms and conditions and the scheme requirements set out in this document and any amendments issued.
Applicants must take up the award at the host institution identified in the application. STFC will not allow a Public Engagement Spark Award holder to change their host institution prior to taking up an award. Consideration will be given to requests during the course of an award to relocate the grant to a different institution for scientific or domestic reasons. The agreement of the institutions concerned will be required before seeking approval from STFC.
Public Engagement Spark Award holders are expected to regularly update the record of their grant using the Research Council reporting tool, ResearchFish, in line with the STFC Public Engagement Evaluation Framework. There are additional questions for STFC public engagement grant holders. This enables STFC to easily extract data regarding the impact of the work of our Spark Award Holders whenever required, and serves as a database of impacts (outputs, outcomes and reach) for an award holder’s own reference. To assist with their ResearchFish return, Public Engagement Spark Award holders are also required, throughout their award, to collect data relevant to their activities in the STFC Public Engagement metrics spreadsheet, and send it to the Public Engagement Team once a year. Guidance on how to fill in the Public Engagement questions on ResearchFish, and the metric spreadsheet, are available on the STFC website.
Publications and other forms of media communication, including media appearances, press releases and conferences, must acknowledge the support received from STFC, quoting the grant reference number if appropriate.
Resources produced as a result of any grants should acknowledge STFC as the funding source using the standard format agreed by funders and publishers and detailed in the additional information accompanying this grant.
In order to ensure appropriate coordination and opportunities to increase the impact of engagement, external media activity produced as a result of this award must be signed off by the STFC Media team before the activity takes place, or is published. This includes press releases, online videos and media briefings. Award holders are responsible for giving STFC sufficient notice in advance of activities such that STFC can advise on content, and/or build the activities of grant holders into our own communications and engagement programmes.
It is a condition of every grant that STFC accepts no liability for the manner in which the work in connection with the grant is undertaken, and the research organisation and award holder will be responsible in all respects for the work and the consequences of it.
A grant may be terminated, or its conditions varied, at any time at the absolute discretion of STFC. Should the award holder leave their institution for another research organisation or an alternative type of employment, they must notify the Public Engagement Team immediately. If it is not possible to transfer the grant then STFC will terminate payments from the day immediately after the award holder leaves the host institution. Failure to submit reports will result in termination of the award unless there are mitigating reasons.
Applications for Public Engagement Spark Awards are submitted via the Research Councils’ Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system. If your organisation is not currently Je-S registered you can self-register via the Je-S system. This will allow your organisation to apply to the call without going through the full registration process. If your application is successful, RCUK will contact you in order to help you with the full registration process.
For specific guidance on filling in the Je-S form, please refer to the Je-S Handbook.
The full Je-S registration process can take up to four weeks so if you do want to fully register please leave yourself plenty of time before the deadline. Please contact the Je-S helpdesk on (01793) 44 4164 or via e-mail to get registered. You will need to give the name and contact details of the organisation together with details of the scheme/call you are applying for.
Emailed or hard copy applications will not be accepted and the page limits outlined below will be strictly enforced by STFC. If any of the supporting documents exceed the specified limits, only the pages within the limits will be considered. The documents must be submitted as .pdf attachments and should conform to the font and margin guidelines in the Je-S Helptext.
If you have any doubt about your eligibility please contact the Public Engagement Team prior to starting the process in order to confirm your eligibility for the scheme.
Together with your completed Je-S application form, you will need to provide the following attachments:
All items requested in the Je-S form must be justified.
Any proposals requesting items that would ordinarily be found in a department, for example non-specialist computers, should include justification both for why they are required for the project and why they cannot be provided from the research organisation’s own resources (including funding from indirect costs from grants).
Further details of how costs should be justified can be found in the ‘Supporting Information’ section of the STFC Research Grants Handbook.
As outlined in section 1.1.3, STFC are inviting Spark Award applications that propose programmes of engagement that work with the target audience of the Wonder initiative. Applicants who wish to undertake such work should use their Case for Support and project partner letters of support to highlight how their application aligns to Wonder in the following ways:
STFC public engagement awards are often partnerships between the grant holders (who apply for and receive financial support from STFC) and ‘project partners’. Such partnerships are not a requirement of STFC support, but will strengthen a case for funding when they are deemed well planned and important for delivery of an impactful programme.
Before an application is made, STFC requires that applicants create proposals that commit the involvement of all parties required to make the proposed programme a success. If an organisation wishes to receive funds from STFC, it must be a listed applicant on the grant. If an organisation will not receive funds from STFC but will have an integral role in the proposed programme, that organisation is a project partner. We encourage applicants to create these partnerships in advance of submitting an application for funding, and to include details of the partnership in the application. Well-constructed partnerships strengthen proposals by providing complementary skills and knowledge, additional staff time, and additional cash or ‘in-kind’ support.
As part of the application process, project partners are invited to provide a ‘statement of support’ alongside the main body of the application. This statement is read alongside the proposal’s Case for Support, and is considered as part of the peer review process. A well-written statement of support will confirm the organisation’s commitment to the proposed project by articulating the benefits of the collaboration, its relevance to the partner and the potential impacts of the programme in the eyes of the partner. The statement of support should also identify the period of support, and detail the range of ‘in-kind’ and financial contributions offered by the partner.
Letters of support can be up to two sides of A4 in length. A letter must be dated clearly, within six months of the submission date of the application. To provide assurance that the project partner has authorised the proposed contribution or commitment, the letter should be signed by a named contact, stating the capacity in which they are providing the sign-off. Letters of support are submitted electronically alongside the grant application, via the Je-S system.
Letters of support must show meaningful contribution to the proposed public engagement programme – letters featuring supportive language but offering no contributions to the project are of little-to-no value, and should not be included.
Should an applicant state in their proposal that the involvement of a party or organisation is important to increase the chances of success of their proposed programme, these organisations must be included as either applicants or project partners. Applications received without these collaborations in place by the point of submission will not be supported.
STFC employs hundreds of scientific and technical staff, alongside our own team of public engagement professionals based at our laboratories across the UK. Applicants for public engagement funding are welcome to seek to include STFC as project partners on public engagement applications where relevant, subject to the guidance above. Applicants must contact STFC staff at least four weeks in advance of the submission deadline if they consider STFC involvement to be important in making their proposal a success.
Should applicants wish to discuss the ability of STFC to participate in their proposal; the following individuals are appropriate first points of contact for the major national laboratory sites:
|Rutherford Appleton Laboratories||Daresbury Laboratories||UK Astronomy Technology Centre|
Public Engagement Manager
Public Engagement Manager
Public Engagement Manager
|01235 445 950||01925 603 231||0131 668 8263|
STFC reserves the right to choose not to participate in proposals at our own discretion. Please note that applications involving STFC as a project partner are treated no differently to other applications in the peer review and funding decision process.
Spark Awards are assessed by a one-stage peer review process: all applications are reviewed by an independent panel of peer reviewers. The peer review panel will have a range of expertise in engagement, outreach, education and the communication of science and technology. The panel members have knowledge of STFC facilities and grant-funded research.
The panel uses the following assessment criteria as the basis for its recommendations:
The panel makes recommendations for funding in the form of a rank-ordered list of proposals, based upon the assessment criteria.
Based on the recommendations from the panel, STFC will then take decisions regarding which applications are funded.
Applicants will be advised of the results via the Je-S system. This will usually be around 10 to 12 weeks after the closing date of the call. The decision of STFC is final.
All Spark Award applications that propose working with the target audience of the Wonder initiative will be identified by STFC staff upon receipt of the application. These applications are assessed by the panel using the same assessment criteria as for other Spark Awards.
However, the panel will create two rank-ordered lists of proposals – one that lists applications aligned to the Wonder initiative, and one that lists all other received applications. These two rank-ordered lists will be ‘tensioned’ against one another to maintain the relative quality rankings of the proposals.
STFC will then take funding decisions regarding which applications are funded, splitting the available funding between the two rank-ordered lists as appropriate.
Awards will be given in the form of a grant from STFC to the principal applicant's organisation. Standard Conditions of Contract can be obtained on request, and will be supplied along with formal notification of any award. The offer letter will be sent to the organisation’s Je-S account and it is their responsibility to forward the information to you.
The organisation will need to accept the award through the Je-S system which will in turn generate a starting confirmation document which will need to be returned by the organisation via the Je-S system as soon as you incur expenditure on the project. Once this has been done the grant becomes active and the quarterly payments profile is created.
Your organisation will receive payment at quarterly intervals throughout the duration of the project (March, June, September and December). To trigger the final payment you will have to submit a Final Expenditure Statement (on Je-S), which is due three months after the end date of the project.
The final payment will be a reconciliation between what has been spent and what has been paid to date.
Payment will be by BACS transfer only, hence successful applicants will be asked to submit their bank account details when registering for a Je-S account, which will be treated in the strictest confidence.
Successful applicants will be required to supply information requested via the ResearchFish data collection tool. Awards that have been funded under the Public Engagement Spark Award scheme have a separate, award-specific section within ResearchFish to be completed.
If the final expenditure statement is not received within the three month period allowed, STFC may recover 20% of expenditure incurred on the grant. All payments may be recovered if the final expenditure statement is not received within six months of the end of the grant.
Applicants must agree to provide STFC with access to completed materials generated by their projects within three months of the grant end date and a means by which to make such materials publicly available, wherever possible.
Before submitting your application you are encouraged to contact the Public Engagement Team to discuss your ideas.
*These may be convened by the Executive to include consolidated grants, contiguous groups of research requests, or research requests which are judged (on the basis of cost or propriety) with regard to the Terms of Reference for the panel.
The STFC, as a publicly funded organisation, is accountable to Government and the public for its actions and for the way it conducts its business which must be undertaken in a way that is transparent and guards against conflicts of interest influencing the outcome of decisions. Further information for managing conflicts as an STFC Panel member can be found here.
The STFC is fully committed to ensuring that all applicants receive equal treatment throughout the peer review process and will provide the necessary training and support to panel members and peer reviewers. STFC policies on inclusion and diversity are available on the STFC website. STFC will keep these policies under review to ensure that its policies and practices reflect best practice and enable full compliance under the Equality Act 2010.
The STFC will distribute peer review papers via a secure extranet and all information must be considered as confidential i.e. the contents should not be disclosed. The confidential nature is intended to ensure that the contents of the proposals, reviews etc. are not made known more widely than is necessary for proper consideration by the peer review panels. Names of reviewers are not disclosed to applicants and neither are those of the lead introducer for the proposals.
Applications, independent reviews and PI Responses are available to panel members via the Peer Review Extranet (STFC’s preferred method for sharing data). Strict controls on data security and data handling are currently in place for Government departments and Government-funded organisations, including the Research Councils. Panel members must not save data (on to laptops, discs or hard drives) and if printed copies of any of the documents are made, these must be shredded after use.
Dr Martin Archer
Queen Mary University of London (QMUL)
SSFX Space Sound Effects
1 August 2017 – 1 November 2018
This project uses a series of short-films created by filmmakers to engage with independent film-going communities with a mixed range of science capital and those who do not usually attend science events.
STFC scientists have been analysing the “big data” produced by various space-based instruments and satellite measurements of these waves have been made audible by Martin and his team. These have been provided to filmmakers to produce creative short-films inspired by these sounds as part of a competition with the winning entries being shown at screenings of these films. This will enable the communities within the target audience to be exposed to current science such as the importance of space weather due to its potential effects on everyday life, and to panel discussions featuring both the filmmakers and the scientists themselves.
Dr Martin Archer
(Credit: Martin Archer)
Dr Vanja Garaj
Brunel University London
The Stories of CERN - A Photo-ethnographic Study
15 August 2017 – 15 January 2019
This project is to carry out a photo-ethnographic study of CERN (European Organisation for Nuclear Research) staff with the aim to deliver a catalogue of digital documentary photographic portraits and accompanying narratives showcasing the human side of the organisation. The project will focus on CERN employees who greatly contribute to the laboratory’s operations and successes but who typically remain hidden from the public eye.
The portraits will show employees in their personal work environment along with narratives which will be based on in-depth interviews with the aim of presenting a summary of both their professional background and attitude towards life at CERN. Garaj and team would like this catalogue to serve as a motivational tool for future generations of STEM professionals and enthusiasts. The catalogue will be used as a resource to develop different educational and promotional tools and activities which will be disseminated through INSPIRE, the STEM Learning Centre at Brunel University.
Dr Vanja Garaj
(Credit: Brunel University London)
Dr Chamkaur Ghag
University College London
Laboratory of Dark Matters
26 June 2017 – 26 September 2017
Chamkaur and team are aiming to raise awareness surrounding dark matter research and the mysteries of our Universe. They aim to do this through bringing together the arts and sciences through means such as an artwork exhibition, a video collaboration, open days and workshops as well as the creation of an information hub at Guest Projects and Cleveland Mining Museum to include leaflets on dark matter research, Boulby Underground Laboratory, scientists and artists. The project will draw on the personal experiences of artists who visited Boulby Underground Laboratory in May 2016 to meet the scientists and gain experience on their quest to discover what our Universe is made up of.
The team would like to introduce families and the general public to particle physics through art as an accessible route to understanding our Universe. In particular, they would like to engage with hard to reach communities in London and Cleveland.
Dr Chamkaur Ghag
(Credit: University of Edinburgh)
Mr Stephen Greenwood
Institute for Research in Schools
Cosmic Ray UK (CRUK)
1 September 2017 – 1 September 2019
The Institute for Research in Schools (IRIS) is a charitable trust supporting young people and teachers to do research in schools. It does this by giving students access to science through contact with university and industrial experts, equipment and data into school laboratories. There is a strong emphasis on addressing a gender-bias and enabling girls to be part of the scientific community.
Stephen and his team aim to bring together the data obtained from different cosmic ray detectors in the UK to correlate results and to make this data accessible to schools through means of a UK network. This is done with the aim of allowing cosmic ray studies to engage and inspire students to be a part of the scientific research community and to support both students and teachers in analysing these data sets giving students an experience of real scientific research and data analysis.
Mr Stephen Greenwood
(Credit: The Institute for Research in Schools)
Mrs Judith Harvey
W5 at Odyssey
Life through a Lens: Promoting STEM careers in Northern Ireland
4 October 2017 – 4 August 2018
W5 is Northern Ireland’s science and discovery centre. Its mission is to inspire the next generation of scientists, innovators and explorers and to deliver a schools and public engagement programme using their StarDome mobile planetarium and to promote links with local industry and researchers.
Judith and her team aim to deliver a schools programme in locations across Northern Ireland which will focus on content surrounding the work of the Hubble Space Telescope and the up-coming James Webb Space Telescope mission. They will be holding events in schools providing teachers and students to interact and engage with representatives from industry and research within space related sectors in Northern Ireland.
(Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA)
Professor Richard Jones
University of Sheffield
Unweaving the Rainbow: exploring colour with art and synchrotron radiation
1 September 2017 – 1 March 2019
Richard and his team aim to engage the public with science from Sheffield University’s use of STFC supported facilities, in particular Synchrotron radiation used to probe the origins of structural colour in biological structures such as bird feathers and butterfly wings. The project is intended to develop and enhance science capital by drawing together arts and science audiences and through involving late primary and early secondary pupils from schools within South Yorkshire. This will be carried out through pop-up exhibitions in Northern England, a talk surrounding the topic of colour in numerous venues and the development of a schools outreach programme audience projection.
Professor Richard Jones
(Credit: University of Sheffield)
Professor Roger Jones
Physics@WOMAD 2017 and set-up for Physics@WOMAD 2018
1 August 2017 – 1 September 2018
WOMAD is a cultural festival that has been run since the early 1980’s. In 2016, Roger and his team undertook a pilot project called the Physics Pavilion at the festival to encourage a science element into the event. This was highly successful and the team is returning to run a bigger event at the festival in 2018. The overall aims are to engage a broadly family audience and to raise awareness of the ideas behind STFC science through workshops, talks and activities. Themes include neutrino physics, solar physics, space weather, planetary science, gravitational science, the role of science in culture and many more. Participants will be able to interact with scientists and to ask them first-hand about their work.
Professor Roger Jones
(Credit: Lancaster University)
Dr Lindsay Keith
University of Greenwich
The Earth and Sky Tour: Building capacity for hyperlocal STEM engagement with astronomy at hubs in England and Wales
1 August 2017 – 1 February 2018
SMASHfestUK is an innovative science festival that uses culture and entertainment to provide STEM engagement for young people in London. The exhibition aims to combine science with art through interactive activities, experiments, games, theatrical performances, comedy shows and storytelling. Keith and his team have partnered with Swansea University to create a SMASHfestUK in Neath in South Wales. The aim of the project is to engage with those unlikely to engage with the main festival held in London. The team aims to capacity build in the area by creating a team of local leaders, engaged researchers and young explainers and train them in the delivery of events run at SMASHfestUK in London.
Dr Lindsay Keith
(Credit: Wellcome Trust)
Dr Helen Mason
University of Cambridge
Sun, Space and Art
1 August 2017 – 1 August 2018
This project builds on the success of the previously STFC funded Sun|Trek: Here Comes the Sun project led by Helen. This included science and art (STEAM) workshops run in a number of primary schools in different regions and ranging from small rural schools to a large city school. This project is to enable CPD sessions to be run for teachers in different areas of the UK. Another part of this project is to trial a workshop helping secondary school children run STEAM projects with primary school children.
Dr Helen Mason
(Credit: University of Cambridge)
Mr Darren Walter
South Oxfordshire District Council
Zoo Space Camp
1 September 2017 – 1 April 2018
This is a pilot programme which explores a suite of activities to promote public engagement with scientific research ideas. It focuses on late primary and early secondary school children and the project is intended to inspire, excited and educate both young pupils and audiences with low science capital. Four core scientific ideas will be explored namely satellites, solar storms, orbits and stars and supernovae using theatre as a medium to convey the excitement and wonder surrounding space science.
(Credit: NASA/CXC/SAO/R.Margutti et al.)
Professor Christopher Allton
1 March 2018 – 1 March 2020
Oriel Science comprises an exhibition and outreach space showcasing Swansea University’s STEM research through hosting science-based exhibitions aimed school students and the wider public. Alongside each exhibition is a workshop offering a schools programme. The project is intended to inspire the target audience and to encourage young visitors to choose STEM subjects at school leading to STEM degrees at university.
This project is for the team’s second exhibition “Image”. The team will utilise images from the Faulkes Telescope and use mock-ups of earth observation satellites from the European Space Agency to create this astronomically-themed exhibit. The projects will take place in a city-centre location in an area comprising hard-to-reach audiences with a low level of participation in STEM education.
(Credit: Swansea University)
Dr Sheila Kanani
Royal Astronomical Society
AstroBoost: using JWST science to survey public engagement activity, inspire amateur astronomers and showcase UK involvement to the public
9 February 2018 – 9 February 2019
This project aims to survey the public engagement activity done by various astronomy societies and to develop a new mechanism to support these societies in their delivery of high quality outreach. In addition, Sheila and team will be showcasing James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) science to the public in particular highlighting the UK’s involvement in the programme, and raising awareness of JWST science ahead of its launch in 2019.
(Credit: Royal Astronomical Society)
Mr Rick Hall
Ignite Futures Ltd
Creating the network of Lab_13 in Nottingham North
15 February 2018 – 15 July 2019
Lab_13 comprises a dedicated space in a school in which children are free to engage their own curiosity about science, technology, engineering and maths without being confined by the curriculum taught in schools.
Rick and his team aim to grow community engagement in scientific culture by helping to improve science capital in families and communities and to help Nottingham become a city of scientific culture.
The team will establish five new Lab_13s in primary schools in Nottingham to inspire schoolchildren along with parents and family members through external activities such as open events and lectures. The programme is intended to raise the science capital in families in deprived neighbourhoods within Nottingham.
Mr Douglas Blane
Three Minute Learning
Three Minute Learning: astounding places, incredible science, inspirational people
5 January 2018 – 5 July 2019
Three minute learning was set up to engage young people with science in order to improve their literacy. This project is to expand on the team’s free online resource 3ml which features articles on subjects including science, engineering, arts, music and current affairs along with accompanying activities.
The idea was originally developed to help overcome poor readers’ learning disadvantages but has been shown to interest and inspire all school pupils with cutting edge science. This project is to develop a new library within 3ml with resources regarding STFC sites around the UK in order to inspire schoolchildren in the age group 8-13 using STFC science. Douglas and his team will concentrate on schools in areas of disadvantage, looked after and adopted children and those with additional support needs.
(Credit: Douglas Blane)
Professor Mark Hindmarsh
University of Sussex
JWST Thermal Photobooth
1 June 2018 – 1 February 2019
This project aims to raise awareness of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) and to enthuse the public and schools with the science it will carry out, informing them about the UK’s involvement in the project.
Mark and his team will develop an interactive outreach stand called the “JWST thermal photobooth” which will be constructed in the shape of the telescope and will feature a thermal camera and information on the infrared astronomy carried out at the University of Sussex. The team plan to take the exhibit to coastal communities along the South-East coast in areas of high deprivation.
Visitors will be able to interact with the exhibit and have their photographs taken with the thermal camera. The camera is already demonstrated on a regular basis. However, the idea is to develop an even more interactive and engaging element for the stand which will provide a strong link to the JWST research that will be carried out at Sussex University over the up-coming decades.
(Credit: University of Sussex)
Dr Ventsislav Valev
University of Bath
Look into my eyes: I could be a scientist!
1 February 2018 – 1 April 2020
This project comprises a series of lectures aimed at primary age students which are focused on the subject of light. Students will be educated about the important properties of light that underpin research including the spectrum of light and frequency mixing processes. Demonstrations will be done with the help of a humanoid robot.
The team will provide a hands-on introduction to the principles behind, and the work involved in, operating systems such as the Astra laser at the Central Laser Facility in the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. Outreach will be carried out by PhD students and particular thought will be given on how to engage them in this project in order for the students to feel valued and recognised.
The team aims to create partnerships between the University of Bath and educators within local primary schools which have the potential to grow through future outreach activities. Working with teachers will increase the reach of students who have access to these lectures and will allow this project to have a larger impact in schools.
(Credit: University of Bath)
Dr Stuart Lumsden
University of Leeds
Star Clusters: Learning about Star Formation using 3D Holograms
1 March 2018 – 1 March 2020
Stuart’s team is actively researching star formation with the aim to constrain the mechanisms that underlie massive star and star cluster formation. This project is to develop a series of interactive workshops for lower and upper secondary school children in West Yorkshire in order to disseminate the team’s research.
Star formation will be explained using 3D holograms and by recreating astronomical objects and processes. Part of the workshop will explain how the 3D hologram illusion works and will include a hands-on session in which participants can make their own hologram projector. The aims of this project are to inspire and enthuse students about astronomy, in particular star formation, and to promote the awareness and disseminate the importance of research and collaboration in the field.
(Credit: University of Leeds)
Mr Phil Coy
STFC – Laboratories (RAL Space)
Spectral power (a whole history of hollows and reliefs)
3 January 2018 – 3 November 2018
The project is called “Spectral Power” and explores the hyper spectral imaging technologies developed at RAL Space. This is done alongside an extended network of scientists working in Earth observation. These images contain objects and features that cannot be seen with the naked eye. They enable us to take measurements over time and from areas where physical proximity is not possible. Through this exploration the work aims to raise awareness of how space and satellite imaging have shaped current visual culture.
Phil and his team will be creating a virtual reality film installation at South London Gallery and at York Museum and Art Gallery, along with a fulldome film show in the Royal Observatory Planetarium. Spectral Power will develop and showcase new work at a series of screenings and exhibitions that celebrate a combination of science and art and ultimately enable RAL Space to communicate its activities to a wider non-science specific audience.
Dr Nicola Triscott
The Arts Catalyst
The Live Creature and Ethereal Things
1 February 2018 – 1 August 2018
Nicola and her team aim to develop a new approach to science engagement which focusses on the human experience of fundamental physics. The team will test this approach with people from both high and low science capital communities in London and Sunderland. They will do this with the use of two large-scale exhibitions displaying the work of Fiona Crisp. Five video works will be shown on screens, showcasing the research undertaken at three world-leading research facilities namely the Boulby Underground Laboratory in Durham, Durham University’s Institute of Computational Cosmology and the Laboratori Nazionale del Gran Sasso in Italy. The exhibition will be accompanied by a one-day or weekend festival comprising events and talks for visitors.
(Credit: The Arts Catalyst)
Dr Rebecca McKelvey
1 February 2018 – 1 February 2019
In2ScienceUK is a non-profit organisation which aims to support young people from low income backgrounds further their studies in STEM subjects at university with the hope of progressing further to a career in the STEM sector.
This project supports young people from the poorest backgrounds to gain two week insights into high-level physics based research through a work placement hosted by STFC researchers. They will get the opportunity to engage in high level research, participate in developing blogs and videos of the work they engage in and partake in workshops and a skills day delivered by the in2scienceUK team which will enable them to obtain a greater understanding of STEM career pathways. The project will focus on supporting local young people from low-income communities in London, Oxford and Cambridge.
University of Manchester
Science in the Space Shed
1 August 2018 – 31 October 2018
Science in the Space Shed will go to three major music and arts festivals with science content - Blue Dot (Jodrell Bank, Cheshire), The Great Museum at the Great Exhibition of the North (Newcastle) and Green Man (Brecon Beacons, Wales).
The project will deliver a programme of conversations, interactive events and science-inspired music, with a theme of particle physics, accelerator physics, astronomy and astrophysics.
(Credit: University of Manchester)
University of Liverpool
Lectures and hands on activities about what is science and what is fiction in famous Star Wars movies and how Star Wars relates to STFC funded R&D
1 September 2018 – 31 August 2021
On 25 May 1977, Star Wars began its world-wide success story with the first movie being launched at 32 cinemas in the USA. Since then the famous series has sparked the imagination of generations.
Through interactive workshops, Carsten and his team will engage STFC staff outside of accelerator science, as well as cohorts of secondary school children with STFC science by immersing them into a Star Wars-themed environment.
Events will illustrate and explain what is science and what is fiction in the movies. This will include, for example. the physics behind the iconic light sabre, hyperspace, and of course...the force. In addition, the team will link the Star Wars universe to current STFC-funded research in Liverpool's Physics Departments and show how this can be as exciting as what is shown in Star Wars.
There will also be many hands-on activities and opportunities to speak with our Liverpool researchers.
(Credit: University of Liverpool)
Spacelink Learning Foundation
Hangouts in the classroom with Spacelink - to extend and develop communication between Space Science and Education Communities
9 July 2018 – 8 July 2021
This project aims to build on the successful pilot of using Google Hangouts to connect schools with scientists in order to inspire young people of primary and secondary school age, teachers and other groups throughout the community, to engage with STEM subjects.
By offering direct access to scientists talking about their own work in space related subjects, the team aims to enhance the opportunities offered by science education in schools and promote careers in STEM.
(Credit: SpaceLink Learning Foundation)
Physics@WOMAD 2018 and set-up for Physics@WOMAD 2019
1 August 2018 – 31 August 2019
After a highly successful Pavilion in both 2016 and 2017, the team were asked to return 'bigger and better' as a fixture at the 2018 festival.
This project will deliver a three-day physics events at the 2018 festival that will raise awareness of a wide range of STFC-related science activities to a family audience. The team will also be working on the set-up for the Physics@WOMAD 2019 event.
(Credit: Lancaster University)
1 August 2018 – 31 January 2020
VirtualSpace is a project that will engage and educate school students and the general public in STFC science and technology, highlighting STFC facilities and those who work at them.
The project will showcase the different career opportunities available to school students in STEM subjects, outlining the education and qualifications needed, possible career paths and the day-to-day work of highlighted careers.
In order to achieve this, the project team will develop high quality, innovative educational resources that highlight STFC's science & technology to the public and schools. Innovative new technologies, such as virtual reality, will be used to better engage with students and the general public. This will also allow users to see and explore STFC science facilities and locations in a completely new and better way.
(Credit: Swansea University)
1 August 2018 – 30 November 2019
Techniquest will develop a new Astronomy-based planetarium show for families and the general public. The target audiences would be those that had not previously engaged with either Techniquest or STEM activities outside of school.
A new planetarium show for compatible science centres and planetariums, along with supplementary resources that are available to all will also be developed.
(Credit: Clare James (Twitter))
The Observatory Science Centre
Confirming Einstein's General Theory of Relativity: One hundred years on
31 August 2018 – 28 February 2020
The project will highlight the significance of the 100th anniversary of the total solar eclipse when observations first proved Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity to families and the general public.
Current research that continues to prove Einstein’s predictions will be highlighted. This will include the gravitational waves research carried out at LIGO.
Visitors to the centre will be introduced to the fascinating world of radio astronomy: its history; how it was used in the initial indirect discovery of gravitational waves 40 years before LIGO directly detected them; its importance in current research including, for example, satellite communications.
(Credit: The Observatory Science Centre)
Abriachan Forest Trust
1 August 2018 – 31 July 2019
Over the year beginning August 2018 the project will deliver a series of exciting astronomy events at Abriachan. These events will make full use of the Abriachan's Dark Sky observing area and the heated indoor classroom. Each event will be themed based on a specific astronomical event or learning topic. For example:
Events will be targeted at family audiences and will have a strong emphasis on landscape, language and, where possible, Highland culture.
(Credit: Stephen Mackintosh, Modulo Universe)
University of Central Lancashire
We Share the Same Moon
4 February 2019 – 3 February 2020
This project is a collaboration between astrophysicist Megan Argo and storyteller Cassandra Wye. Their aim is to bring together creativity and science through the development of lunar resources for use in primary classrooms and other informal teaching environments such as planetaria. Training for teachers and informal educators in using storytelling to communicate science creatively will also be developed alongside this. The story-telling developed in this project will be based on sky-lore stories from many different cultures within the UK, USA, Africa and Europe. Resources will be available online and will be disseminated through articles, blogs, podcasts and presentations. The team hope to create new collaborations across art and science through this project linking storytellers, astrophysicists and teachers to promote a creative approach to science education.
(Credit: Royal Astronomical Society)
University of Central Lancashire
SUN: Engaging low science capital audiences through the Lightpool Festival at the Blackpool Illuminations
1 March 2019 – 31 December 2019
Robert and his team plan to deliver an installation piece as part of the Lightpool Festival in the 2019 Blackpool Illuminations. Lightpool is a free arts festival that takes place in Blackpool towards the end of October and aims to encourage Blackpool residents to spend time in the town centre and connect with the illuminations.
SUN is a 7-metre diameter sphere which will be suspended above the ground. Laser projections will be contained in the sphere projecting outwards showing the magnificent images from NASA’s Solar Dynamic Observatory Atmospheric Imaging Assembly which will be stitched together creating a 360° presentation. This dynamic art installation aims to highlight the wonders of solar physics and to engage with new, low science capital and underserved audiences. It aims to enthuse Blackpool primary school children to take part in related activities while giving them the opportunity to meet and talk to researchers.
(Credit: University of Central Lancashire)
University of Strathclyde
Orbital Debris Capture Simulator
31 August 2019 – 30 August 2022
Massimiliano and his team aim to design the pilot version of a space debris capture competition with associated resources in which secondary school children will be invited to participate in. The project aims to create new STEM learning opportunities for disadvantaged school children and to address the gender imbalance within STEM and further education. The competition will focus on communicating the key concepts of operating small satellites in an orbital environment including remote operation and free-fall physics. In particular, school children from disadvantaged backgrounds and underrepresented communities will be targeted. They will be invited to form teams consisting of 50% females and will then participate in a number of traditional mission control roles including observation, operations, maintenance, trajectory analysis and command. Teams will then compete against each other using micro-drones designed to mimic a piece of space debris in an Earth orbit. The task is to use a capture drone to capture a piece of space debris after working through planning activities, calculations and identifying manoeuvers as a team.
(Credit: University of Strathclyde)
University of Oxford
Space is the Place
1 November 2018 – 31 August 2019
This is a community engagement project which will take place at the Cowley Road Carnival in July. The theme for 2019 is “Space is the Place” which looks at space exploration including the 50th anniversary of the Lunar landing. The project aims to connect groups of Oxford Physics researchers with four community groups who will each work with artists to create four space-themed carnival structures. Sian and her team will run a Space Inspiration Day to introduce the participants to a broad range of current space-related research. They will develop community workshops allowing participants to share, question and express themselves in science and the team aim to build science capital and develop relationships between researchers and community groups to showcase the importance of science and technology. The teams will present their finished art structures at the Cowley Road Carnival Procession
(Credit: University of Oxford)
A portable inflatable planetarium for Lancashire and Cumbria
1 February 2019 – 31 July 2019
This project aims to develop planetarium shows for use with an inflatable planetarium which will be displayed at a number of school visits, science festivals, local events and the National Astronomy Meeting 2019. The team will develop shows covering topics including the night sky, our Solar System, exoplanets, the diversity of galaxies and other timely events such as the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope. The shows will be designed to inspire and engage with both school children and the general public with a focus on those that would otherwise not engage with STEM in local communities.
(Credit: Lancaster University)
University of Hull
Gamification of Outreach and Learning: Creation of Physics and Astronomy Escape Rooms
1 March 2019 – 30 September 2019
The aim of this project is to create suite of “escape room” games based around science aimed at the general public. Three escape room games will be designed and will incorporate themes such as spacecraft, performance computing, stellar evolution and the origin of the elements. Kevin and his team aim to use this novel approach within public engagement to enthuse the general public with physics and computer programming in a fun and interactive environment. Using this approach, they hope to reach audiences which other methods may not have targeted before. The escape rooms will debut at Hull Science Festival 2019 after which the reach will be widened to include other local and national events.
(Credit: University of Hull)
University of Sussex
Sussex Curiosity Fairs
1 February 2019 – 31 January 2020
The aim of this project is to engage families and primary school children in Sussex with on-going local STEM activities through a series of Curiosity Fairs. Specific focus in this project will be given to increasing the diversity of the audience from underrepresented locations. The project aims to reach new audiences and raise the profile of STEM activities, subjects and careers with particular focus on physics and astronomy. One event will be based in Brighton and the other near the East Sussex coastal communities of Bexhill, St. Leonards and Hastings and both will be free to attend.
(Credit: University of Sussex)
STFC, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory
Cloud Catcher: Hunting Clouds from your Living Room
1 February 2019 – 31 July 2020
The Rutherford Appleton Laboratory is a major part of the team supporting an instrument on the Sea and Land Surface Temperature Radiometer (SLSTR) aboard the European Space Agency’s Sentinel-3 satellite mission. The instrument scans the Earth and builds up images of visible light and senses the heat radiating from the surface. These images are then used for important weather forecasting models and are vital for the long term monitoring of the Earth’s climate.
The Zooniverse is a web portal which allows Citizen Science projects to be set up in which anyone can participate in. The cloud mask used on the SLSTR is not perfect and there are times where it does not perform as well as people do in identifying clouds in an image. This project is to design and test the concept of a cloud-hunting app, in which people, in particular primary school children, can identify whether or not there is cloud in a particular part of an image. People will be able to participate and engage in the scientific work being undertaken and will be able to access this from their home. The overall scientific aim of the project will be to produce a dataset of cloud-screened images that will be used by scientists and the team to quantify the performance of the operational cloud mask for the SLSTR. Online resources will be developed providing background information on the climate science involved in the project, the instruments involved and a blog allowing volunteers to interact.
(Credit: RAL Space)
University of Glasgow
Nuclear Physics Outreach Programme
1 March 2019 – 31 August 2019
This project aims to increase the overall knowledge and understanding of nuclear physics within local communities in an interactive way, with particular focus on raising the awareness of crucial applications in our everyday lives which rely heavily on nuclear physics. These include nuclear medicine and meeting future energy demands. The aim of this project is to develop resources for, and host, a series of nuclear physics themed events which will coincide with the International Nuclear Physics Conference (INPC) 2019, the largest international conference devoted to fundamental nuclear physics research. This will include teacher training, a masterclass for school children and a workshop for the general public showcasing a novel pop-up exhibition. The team aim to educate as many members of the general public and local communities as possible, but emphasis will be placed on reaching teachers and school children from disadvantaged areas.
(Credit: University of Glasgow)
STFC, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory
Outer Space Hands-on - Exploring the Universe from the Laboratory
1 February 2019 – 31 July 2019
Sabrina and her team aim to increase the visibility of laboratory astrophysics to school children and inspire them to take up STEM subjects in their future careers. They will create a virtual reality (VR) model of the Light Gas Gun at the University of Kent. The Light Gas Gun is used to simulate the impacts encountered in space in which custom experiments can be created. Students will be able to use a VR headset to explore the dimensions and processes of the facility which would otherwise not be accessible to the general public. The model will be displayed at the International Astronomical Union Symposium in Cambridge. Additionally, the team will run two competitions in which students will undertake a science project for several weeks to enthuse and inspire them ahead of the exhibition event.
New Music in the South West
IN THE STEPS OF APOLLO: from the first Moon landing, to the Universe beyond...
20 July 2019 – 19 January 2020
This project aims to enthuse primary and secondary school children and the general public about fundamental physics, astronomy and mission science. Julian and his team will create a mobile dome schools tour, particularly targeting schools in areas of deprivation, which will raise school children’s interest in gaining a better understanding of science. This mobile dome tour will also be extended to the region’s community centres in order to captivate families and communities in rural or semi-rural areas. The planetarium shows will include visual journeys created by the University of Bristol’s ‘We The Curious’ team and will be based on the moon and stars, the Apollo 11 mission, flight around the Solar System, nebulae and star formation and the journey to distant galaxies.
(Credit: Julian Leeks)
You can download the contents of this page as PDF:
Last updated: 09 September 2019