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Public Engagement Spark Awards


The submission window for applications to the Spark Awards 2021A call is Tuesday 9th March to 4.00pm on Thursday 6th May 2021.

This guidance has been updated to reflect the STFC’s recognition of the current restrictions on engaging with audiences, changes include the relaxation of the usually strict requirement for projects to be novel and the encouragement of consideration of the appropriateness of remote and virtual engagement methodologies as a potential focal area for projects; the previous restriction whereby we would  only consider funding digital content (e.g. websites, videos etc.) as an intrinsic part of a wider engagement programme has been loosened.

1. STFC Public Engagement Spark Awards – Overview 

            1.1       Scheme Remit

            1.2       Host Institution

            1.3       Applicant Eligibility

            1.4       Scheme Value and Costings

            1.5       Duration, Start Dates and Timetable

            1.6       Scheme Flexibility

            1.7       Scheme Conditions and Features

2. How to Apply

            2.1       Submitting an Application via Je-S

            2.2       Documents Required

            2.3       Project Partners and Letters of Support

            2.4       Assessment Process Overview

            2.5       Successful Applications

            2.6       Process Flowchart

3. Contacts and Enquiries

We want to

Daresbury Engineering Open House Day

Daresbury Engineering Open House Day July 2017
(Credit: STFC)

  • Encourage and support  high-quality public engagement activities that highlight STFC’s science, technology or facilities. Novel approaches to engagement and audience are encouraged but, in light of social distancing restrictions arising from Covid-19, we are relaxing the strict requirement for novelty in this Sparks round. The situation will be reviewed in future Spark Award calls.
  • Introduce STFC science, technology and facilities to new audiences
  • Encourage Spark Award applications that include work with the Wonder target audience and/or those considered to have low science capital.
  • Highlight the achievements of STFC science, technology and facilities, demonstrating the excitement of research and the value of STEM to the UK

Our expectations of our spark award holders

  • Delivering high-quality public engagement activities during the lifetime of the award
  • Championing STFC science, technology and facilities, including their impact of on society
  • Interacting with STFC’s public engagement and communication teams, including participation in STFC networks, events, and advisory structures when requested

1.0 Public Engagement Spark Awards – overview


1.1 Scheme Remit

STFC Spark Award holders undertake high quality programmes of public engagement that inspire and involve target audiences with stories of STFC science, technology and facilities.

Novel approaches to engagement and audience are encouraged but, in light of social distancing restrictions arising from Covid-19, we are relaxing the strict requirement for novelty in this round. The situation will be kept under review.

1.1.1 Engagement Programmes

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.

1.1.2 General Points

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.

Applicants may choose which audiences to engage with, and the methods of engagement. These must be outlined in the Case for Support.

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.

1.1.3 Spark Awards and STFC’s Wonder initiative

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 socio-economically-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.

1.1.4 What the Scheme Will/Will Not Fund

The following costs are ineligible for support via Spark Awards:

  • Projects where the target audiences are not primarily within the UK
  • Fees or honoraria to people already in paid employment to visit or give talks at schools, societies etc. where such activities would reasonably be undertaken as part of their normal duties
  • Costs for hardware or equipment over the individual value of £10,000 (see section 1.4.1)
  • Infrastructure funding or costs for building construction and maintenance
  • Projects where it is clear that the whole project would go ahead irrespective of STFC support
  • Retrospective funding, including those projects with a start date after the closing date but before the funding decisions are announced
  • Awards will not be funded for the sole purpose of authorship and publication of books and novels
  • Contingency funds

For applicants from or for schools, please note the following:

  • Requests for supply/teacher cover and/or transport costs are eligible for consideration

For applicants from or for schools, please note that requests for the following are ineligible:

  • Programmes of formal education
  • School trips to CERN and trips to other laboratories, observatories & science venues unless they are intrinsic to a wider public engagement project

1.1.5 Spark Awards for New Digital Content

Social distancing restrictions arising from the Covid-19 pandemic are making traditional engagement modes substantially more challenging than they have been in for previous Spark Awards funding calls. For this Sparks call we are therefore actively encouraging applicants to consider the appropriateness of remote and virtual engagement methodologies as a potential focal area for their work and are loosening the previous restriction whereby we would only consider funding digital content (e.g. websites, videos etc.) as an intrinsic part of a wider engagement programme.

Applications do not need to be digitally based but those focusing on face to face delivery are encouraged to actively consider contingency planning should funded activity delivery not be possible due to the evolving status of social distancing measures.

Applicants should take account of the current status and anticipated trajectory of social distancing at the time of submitting their application and both STFC and the funding panel will assess these ‘in good faith’ recognising that many aspects of this may be subject to change beyond the applicant’s control.

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:

  • A demonstration of the ‘evidence of need’ for any proposed content, and/or gaps in current provision of such material
  • Evidence that the target audience for any content will be involved in the design and production of such content, within the constraints of social distancing
  • Consideration of if and how the content will be sustained beyond the funded period, including potential funding sources
  • Information on licensing in order to promote sharing and re-use of the digital content
  • Acknowledgement of web accessibility rules and regulations

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:

  • The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA)
  • Association of International Accountants (AIA)
  • Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA)
  • The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA)
  • The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW)
  • Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS)
  • Chartered Accountants Ireland (CAI)

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.

1.3.1 Previous Applicants

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 direct continuation 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.

1.4.1 Equipment Costs

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.

1.4.2 Use of Funds

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.

1.4.3 Spark Award Funding as a Contribution to a Larger Project

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 2021A call are not expected to start before 1 August 2021.

1.5.1 Spark Award Process Timetable

Call Activity Indicative Timetable
Call announced 9 March 2021
Call closes 6 May 2021 at 16:00
Application volume to Panel May 2021
Panel assessment meeting June 2021
Awards Announcements June 2021
PE Spark Awards start From August 2021 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.

1.7.1 Movement between Institutions

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.

1.7.2 Reporting & Liaison with 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.

1.7.3 Publication, Resources & Acknowledgement of Support

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.

1.7.4 Liability

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.

1.7.4 Termination of Awards

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.


2.0 How to apply


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:

  • Case for Support – maximum of six sides of A4 of the six allowed for the Case for Support. The Case for Support must include the following:
    • A short overview of the applicant’s track record in public engagement with science and technology. This track record should focus on areas relevant to the application;
    • The rationale for the Spark Award, showing the overall aims, anticipated outcomes and how activities will contribute to meeting the stated aims of the STFC Public Engagement Strategy;
    • A clear plan for engagement activities the applicant intends to undertake during the Spark Award. Applicants should provide details of their plans to deliver these activities, including how they will effectively engage their target audiences, identification of potential risks and appropriate mitigation strategies. Reference to Covid-19 and the implications of evolving social distancing should be included here. STFC acknowledges that audience numbers, particularly in-person, are likely to be substantially reduced as a result of social distancing. Where part of a clear and purposeful engagement plan, applicants will not be negatively impacted by reduced participant metrics;
    • An evaluation plan showing details of how the outputs, outcomes, and impacts of the Spark Award will be captured and evaluated; applicants are strongly advised to refer to the STFC Public Engagement Evaluation Strategy document
    • A dissemination plan detailing how resources, learning outcomes, outputs, etc. will be made available to wider audiences;
    • A justification of the resources requested – this may be up to two sides of A4 (of the total six pages for the Case for Support). This justifies the requested funds applied for in an application and should:
      • allow reviewers to make an informed judgement on whether the resources requested are appropriate for the proposed programme;
      • explain why the resources requested are appropriate for the programme proposed taking account of the nature and complexity of the proposal. It should not be simply a list of the resources required as this is already given in the Je-S form.

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.

2.2.1 Highlighting alignment to the Wonder initiative

As outlined in section 1.1.3, STFC invites 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:

  • o The rationale for the Spark Award should clearly indicate how the aims and desired outcomes of the Spark Award have been developed in partnership with audience group(s) selected, to the fullest extent practical, taking account of social distancing and the likely wider capacity reduction in potential partner organisations and groups.
  • The rationale should also indicate why the target audience has been selected, and provide a summary of the audience in a way that clearly indicates alignment to target audience outlined in section 1.1.3.
  • The plan for engagement activities should show clear evidence of being designed in partnership with the target audiences, to the fullest extent practical, taking account of social distancing and the likely wider capacity reduction in potential partner organisations and groups.
  • Letters of Support (see section 2.4) will ideally be obtained from partner organisations that will work with the target audience as part of the Spark Award, detailing how their contribution will help to support a successful programme.

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 ‘Project Partner Letter of Support’ alongside the main body of the application.

As part of the application process, project partners are invited to provide a ‘Project Partner Letter of Support’ alongside the main body of the application. Project Partner Letters of Support should follow the format set out at ‘section 5.11.6 of the Research Grants Handbook.’

This letter is read alongside the proposal’s Case for Support and is considered as part of the peer review process. A well-written letter 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. The Je-S system will only allow you to submit three letters of support. If you have more than three letters of support, you can upload these as a combined PDF document or contact the STFC Public Engagement Team.

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.

2.3.1 STFC National Laboratories and Employees as Project Partners

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
Sophy Palmer
Public Engagement Manager
Phill Day
Public Engagement Manager
Olivia Johnson
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:

  • Has the applicant demonstrated a relevant track record in public engagement?
  • Does the application have clear links to STFC science, technology or facilities?
  • Is the rationale for the proposed award convincing and does it take account of good practice in public engagement?
  • Does it align to the STFC Public Engagement Strategy?
  • Is there a clear and appropriate plan for the proposed engagement activities, tailored to the target audiences, and including a consideration of project risk, including but not limited to the extant social distancing measures in place at date of submission and planning for their further evolution?
  • Is there an effective and suitable plan for evaluation of the outputs, outcomes and impacts of the award and does it align to the STFC Public Engagement Evaluation Framework?
  • Is there a suitable plan for publicising the outcomes of the award, and disseminating any outputs produced to wider audiences?
  • Is the proposal an effective use of funding to achieve the declared objectives?

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.

2.4.1 Peer review of applications aligned to the Wonder initiative

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.

2.5.1 Reporting Requirements

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.


3.0 Contacts and enquiries

Before submitting your application you are encouraged to contact the Public Engagement Team to discuss your ideas.


4.0 Membership and Terms of Reference

Aims of the Public Engagement Spark Awards panel
  1. To assess and make recommendations to the STFC Executive for the awards in Public Engagement.
  2. To take account, as appropriate, of any strategic advice provided by STFC.
  3. To take account, as appropriate, of the recommendations of external reviewers and the conclusion of specialist peer review Panels.*
  4. To provide clear concise feedback to applicants.
  5. To advise the Science Board and Executive as required on all issues relating to research grants including monitoring the level of funding allocated to grants per round.
  6. To liaise with other bodies as necessary.
  7. To carry out other tasks associated with peer review that the Executive might require.

*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.

Guidelines for managing conflicts of interest in the peer review process

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.

Equality of opportunity

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.

Security/Data Protection

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.

  • Vic Pearson – The Open University, Chair
  • Aidan Robson – University of Glasgow
  • Cristina Lazzeroni – University of Birmingham
  • Daniel Brown – Nottingham Trent University
  • Marieke Royle – Mullion School
  • Stacey Habergham-Mawson – Liverpool John Moores University
  • Paul Roche – University of Cardiff
  • Ben Littlefield – UCL

5.0 Previously funded projects


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

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

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

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

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.

Mrs Judith Harvey

(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

Professor Richard Jones
(Credit: University of Sheffield)


Professor Roger Jones
Lancaster University
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

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

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

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.

Mr Darren Walter

(Credit: NASA/CXC/SAO/R.Margutti et al.)


Professor Christopher Allton
Swansea University
Oriel Science
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.

Professor Christopher Allton

(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.

Dr Sheila Kanani

(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.

Lab_13 students

(Credit: Ignite!)


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.

Douglas Blane

(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.

Professor Mark Hindmarsh

(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.

Dr Ventsislav Valev

(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.

Dr Stuart Lumsden

(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.

Artists impression of satellites and telescopes orbiting the Earth

(Credit: NASA)


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.

An art gallery with some of the sience art pieces displayed

(Credit: The Arts Catalyst)


Dr Rebecca McKelvey
In2scienceUK Sparks
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.

Dr Rebecca McKelvey

(Credit: in2scienceUK)


Rob Appleby
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.

Rob Appleby

(Credit: University of Manchester)


Carsten Welsch
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.

Carsten Welsch

(Credit: University of Liverpool)


Robert Coombes
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.

Robert Coombes

(Credit: SpaceLink Learning Foundation)


Roger Jones
Lancaster University
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.

Roger Jones

(Credit: Lancaster University)


Sarah Roberts
Swansea 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.

Sarah Roberts

(Credit: Swansea University)


Clare James
Mysterious Moon
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.

Clare James

(Credit: Clare James (Twitter))


Sandra Voss
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.

Sandra Voss

(Credit: The Observatory Science Centre)


Stephen Mackintosh
Abriachan Forest Trust
Star Stories
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:

  • Meteor showers
  • Lunar observation
  • Solar observation
  • Constellations
  • Star clusters
  • Galaxies
  • The Equinoxes and Solstices

Events will be targeted at family audiences and will have a strong emphasis on landscape, language and, where possible, Highland culture.

Modulo Universe

(Credit: Stephen Mackintosh, Modulo Universe)


Megan Argo
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.

Megan Argo

(Credit: Royal Astronomical Society)


Robert Walsh
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.

Robert Walsh

(Credit: University of Central Lancashire)


Massimiliano Vasile
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.

Robert Coombes

(Credit: University of Strathclyde)


Sian Tedaldi
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

Sian Tedaldi

(Credit: University of Oxford)


Julie Wardlow
Lancaster University
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.

Julie Wardlow

(Credit: Lancaster University)


Kevin Pimbblet
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.

Kevin Pimbblet

(Credit: University of Hull)


Stephen Wilkins
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.

Stephen Wilkins

(Credit: University of Sussex)


Caroline Cox
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.

Caroline Cox

(Credit: RAL Space)


Rachel Montgomery
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.

Rachel Montgomery

(Credit: University of Glasgow)


Sabrina Gaertner
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.

Sabrina Gaertner

(Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)


Julian Leeks
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.

Julian Leeks

(Credit: Julian Leeks)


Sarah Langford
Sphere Science
Space for you Key Stage Two
17 September 2019 – 16 December 2020

Sarah and her team aim to provide a novel and exciting project for Key Stage 2 school children to access STFC research in a fun and engaging way. Children with low science capital backgrounds will be able to learn about space research from researchers who will be trained through workshops in the Leicester area. Themes will include magnetism, light and space as part of the National Curriculum. The team would like to build on their understanding and broaden their scientific skills to relate these topics to STFC research at the University of Leicester in order to improve their aspirations for the future.

Sarah Langford



Sarah Langford
Sphere Science
Space Science Celebration
17 September 2019 – 16 September 2020

School children will be able to attend sessions to help them decide how they will present the knowledge gained during the workshops at a "Space Celebration Event" where par-ents, families and the wider Somali community will be invited to attend. Students will be allowed to present in either English or in their home language as they see fit to allow them to judge the optimal way in which to communicate with their audience.

The aim of this project is to equip students with important transferable skills in presenta-tion and communication and to increase their understanding of space science, the Uni-versity of Leicester and the facilities offered at the National Space Centre.

Sarah Langford

Cristina Lazzeroni
University of Birmingham
Reaching the under-served and growing population of home-educated students
1 October 2019 – 30 September 2022

Cristina and her team aim to reach the under-served community of home educated students and their families to increase their science literacy and to inspire them to partake in STEM subjects in the future. The project will develop and run a set of workshops for different age groups covering topics such as exoplanet detection, distances within the Universe and gravitational waves and black hole physics. By engaging with both students and their families, the team aim to encourage science discussions into family life, improving the science literacy of family members which might not otherwise have chosen to engage with science.

Cristina Lazzeroni

Claire Dixon
The Herschel House Trust
Star Seekers - New Frontiers
23 October 2019 – 22 March 2021

Claire and her team aim to provide access to a new Herschel planetarium experience, up-grade the museum’s start vault to allow live streaming of lectures, talks and workshops and develop new content that connects the Herschel story with developments in astron-omy whilst building partnerships with institutions, staff and volunteers, connecting them with new audiences to inspire about the subject of astronomy.

The team will target a wide variety of audiences including, visitors, community groups, academic groups and both primary and secondary school children. The aim is to inspire these audiences with stories of STFC science and technology and to develop their own in-terests in astronomy.

Bath Astronomers

(Credit: Bath Astronomers)


Dane Comerford
Oxfordshire Science Festival
The Edge of Science
13 September 2019 – 12 May 2021

The Oxfordshire Science Festival is an independent charity which offers an annual opportunity for people to explore science and innovation in contemporary culture. This project aims to develop a series of workshops and events for the Oxfordshire Science Festival to show how science is relevant to a diverse range of audiences and to increase the number and range of events developed for those in underrepresented communities. Additionally, the team aim to demonstrate to researchers that both existing and new audiences to STEM subjects have valuable ideas to contribute. Workshops will explore areas of science that connect to local interests and aspirations.

Dane Comerford

Sarah Ecob
Conwy Arts Trust
Space Explorers
20 November 2019 – 30 July 2021

This project will see The Conwy Arts Trust will working in partnership with Dark Skies Wales, Venue Cymru, Artist Rachel Rosen and Prof. Andy Newsam to use the creative arts to further the knowledge of astronomy and “Dark Skies”. North Wales has a large area which is a designated Dark Sky Reserve for which public awareness is generally low. The team aim to work with young people and their families to improve their understanding, excite them and inspire them to be ambassadors for “Dark Skies”. The team will target communities and schools from the more deprived areas of the county, some of which rank within the 10% most deprived in Wales on the Government’s index of multiple deprivation.

The team will run two schools-based programmes, one for a primary school and one for a secondary school with the aim of creating a cohort of young people who have a deeper understanding of astronomy than they would normally gain in school. The project will include events, CPD sessions and several school trips to inspire further study along with STEM career choices.

Sarah Ecob

Sarah Roberts
Swansea University
Stardust Hunters
5 February 2020 – 4 August 2021

Sarah and her team aim to enthuse school children aged 8-14 years about the relatively new research of urban micrometeorites. They will deliver educational activities based around this topic, highlighting this area of STFC research to schools and public audiences in the South and West Wales areas. The team will provide school children with the oppor-tunity to carry out scientific investigations in school and at home whilst at the same time contributing to real research. School children will be introduced to STEM communicators and scientists who will convey their career journey with them, showcasing the possible routes that school children can take if they wish to pursue a career in STEM.

Sarah Roberts

Jamie Williams
University of Leicester
Detecting and Using Radio Waves from Earth and Space in the Classroom
23 September 2019 – 22 June 2020

RadEOT is a handheld educational tool combining Software Designed Radio technology with a Graphic User Interface which incorporates educational tasks with applications in several different STEM subjects. In this project, Jamie and his team will develop RadEOT activities which will link to areas of the National Curriculum and deploy this in classes at various schools and through the National Space Academy. The team will work with teach-ers and identify opportunities for RadEOT along with providing resources to match the activities once developed.

Jamie Williams

Berry Billingsley
Canterbury Christ Church University
Giving young people experiences of the curiosity, creativity and wonder of thinking like a physicist
1 March 292 – 31 December 2020

Berry and his team aim to develop workshop activities for students aged 8-12 in six schools in socio-economically deprived areas in order to broaden their understanding of physics and to allow students to develop a deeper appreciation of the curiosity, creativity and wonder that is involved with real-world science exploration. Workshops will be de-signed for both primary and secondary aged students along with the design and delivery of teacher development materials to go with each workshop. Each workshop will engage with case studies from astronomy, solar and planetary science, particle physics and accel-erator science.

Berry Billingsley

Andy Newsam
Liverpool John Moores University
Using astronomy to create STEM clubs in schoo ls in low science capital areas
3 February 2020 – 12 February 2022

STEM clubs have become an important tool for schools to encourage a wider appreciation of STEM for school children. Andy and his team aim to develop a suite of STEM Club “starter parks” for both primary and secondary schools. The packs will be designed to be delivered in school by “non-specialists” including teaching assistants, parents and older students. Starter packs will come in three levels for which student workbooks and com-prehensive teacher notes will be delivered.

Andy Newsam

Carlton Baugh
Durham University
Your Place in the Universe
1 February 2020 – 30 September 2021

Carlton and his team aim to design, construct and deliver a new exhibit called “Your Place in the Universe”. The exhibit will be taken to a range of events over a 20-month period and will be seen by members of the public and school children of all ages. The exhibit will allow visitors to interact with a virtual Universe predicted using supercomputer simula-tions and Augmented Reality (AR). It will allow visitors to explore the Universe in real time, learn about different classes of objects and view simulated galaxies. A key outcome of the project will be the training of PhD students and early career researchers to become STEM developers and influencers who will deliver the events over the period of the pro-ject.

Carlton Baugh

Rick Hall
Ignite Futures Ltd
Our City on Mars - exploring conditions in Nottingham and the red planet; what we need for a good life here and in the cosmos
20 April 2020 – 19 April 2021

This project builds on a previous project in Nottingham to work across disciplines, to iden-tify a future collaboration between arts and science and to work with communities in an area of Nottingham which faces considerable challenges in economic stability and em-ployment opportunities. The aim of the project is to create an education programme that inspires young people in their excitement and understanding of the science of astrophys-ics and the solar system.

Rick Hall

Mike Harrison
Comet Chasers
24 February 2020 – 23 March 2021

The aim of this project is to develop a unique and engaging educational programme for primary schools which explores the observation and study of comets and other astronom-ical objects. The team aim to widen the audiences for Techniquest, Cardiff University, the Open University and STFC by engaging schools in areas of high educational deprivation according to the Welsh Index of Multiple Deprivation. Additionally, the team aim to build science capital for over 1,600 primary school pupils with multiple engagements for schools that acts as an excellent gateway into STEM education and engagement opportu-nities through the exciting science of astronomy.

Mike Harrison

Mark Basham
Diamond Light Source
Diamond the Board Game - engaging students in the science of Diamond Light Source and the process of being a scientist
17 February – 316 November 2020

>Rising costs of public engagement mean that it is harder to deliver activities inclusively across the country. This is set against rising pressure on teachers and a massive STEM skills shortage. Mark and his team seek to address this through the development and distribution of 'Diamond the Board Game' (DTBG) which aims to provide a cheap, reusable and entertaining way to directly engage students in STEM careers and the underpinning scientific experiments. The aim of this project is to bulk manufacture 1000 copies of the game, which will then be distributed primarily to the schools aligned to STFC’s Wonder Initiative.

Mark Basham

Antoine Gittens-Jackson
A/V Revolution
Origins of the Universe
17 February 2020 – 16 Mayt 2021

The aim of this project is to create a STEM themed music album and supporting materials that can be used to explain the origins of the Universe. The music album will consist of 7 physics themed rap tracks created with popular professional UK musicians. The tracks will be created after liaising with secondary school science teachers in socio-economically deprived areas and establishing some core issues they face engaging their students in the classroom. In addition, research will take place with leading STEM influencers from top science institutes around the world. Digital copies of lyrics and supporting educational worksheets will be made publicly accessible for free. There will be 2 music videos created to accompany the project and also short video interviews will be taken to help give an understanding of what it means to work in STEM in the 21st century.

Antoine Gittens-Jackson

XinRan Lui
University of Edinburgh
Remote^3: Remote sensing by Remote schools in Remote environments
3 February 2020 – 2 February 2022

>Boulby Underground Laboratory and The University of Edinburgh will work with five chosen schools who will design, build and program Lego Mindstorm robots to undertake a series of challenges in the Boulby Mars Yard. Schools will work with mentors from the University of Edinburgh over 3 months to address the project challenges which will be linked to the Boulby Underground Laboratory. Each robot will be faced with a series of tasks to be completed inside the NASA Mars Yard situated more than 1 km underground at the Boulby Underground Laboratory. The students will be able to remotely control their robot from their school control room just like the Mars Rover. Teams will be encouraged to invent novel techniques to complete each task.

XinRan Lui

Kate Winfield
RAL Space
Unofficial STFC Guide and Scout challenge badge
24 October 2019 – 23 October 2020

This project aims to create a challenge pack and associated badge to inspire the workforce of the future to become scientists and engineers and to help the young participants understand what scientists and engineers do based on the different engineering and science jobs found in STFC. The project will target young people in Scouts and Girlguiding, opening up another route for STFC public engagement and reaching young people outside the school environment, therefore not restricted by the national curriculum. Skills such as teamwork, communication and leadership in addition to science and engineering will be targeted.

Kate Winfield

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Last updated: 23 April 2021


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