Astronomical project is ready to blast Lancs school kids into outer space

A spectacular new project aimed at getting more children interested in space in ready for lift-off

Thursday, 29th October 2020, 1:22 pm
UCLan's Dr Joanne Pledger behind the scenes

Primary schools across the county are being offered a host of free fun videos and resources which use dance as a way of getting youngsters interested in the science of astronomy.

The ‘Into Our Skies: Space in Schools’ scheme has been created by staff at the University of Central Lancashire in Preston, in conjunction with dancer Lucy Starkey. A six-week course, it can also be used by parents at home and is aimed at nine to 11 year olds. It includes interactive videos which were filmed at the University’s Alston Observatory.

UCLan astronomer Dr Joanne Pledger, UCLanDance co-course leader Ruth Spencer and artist-in-residence Lucy Starkey have worked together to create a course to challenge traditional science-learning and uses dance to engage Year 5 and 6 age pupils with the curiosity and excitement of scientific ideas.

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Lucy Starkey under the observatory Photo by Rebecca Richards

Dr Pledger said: "We’re absolutely delighted with the three interactive videos and learning resources we’ve created, and we know schoolchildren are going to love them. They are closely aligned with national curriculum guidelines meaning teachers can provide practical opportunities for pupils engage in topics such as The Solar System, orbits and the rotation of the Earth.

"We fully believe these resources can be a massive help to teachers at a time when they’re being stretched by the impact of Covid-19. These free resources take the stress out of lesson planning and can be used in the classroom, as a homework task or can be very helpful in the many cases of classes having to self-isolate at home."

Additional resources include top tips on how to organise a dance class and supplementary information on ‘the science bit’, designed to help parents or teachers alike deliver high quality content, regardless of their background or level of science and dance knowledge.

The resources have been backed by Sarah Connon, Science Learning Partnership Lead for Lancashire and Cumbria.

Sarah, assistant headteacher at Ashton Community Science College in Preston, said: "The Into Our Skies: Space in Schools project composes of an amazing set of Key Stage 2 resources for teachers to engage and motivate students by delivering Earth and space through dance.

"Not only will they work in the classroom, but also as a remote package for students self-isolating or as an extracurricular activity to ensure pupils are keeping their minds healthy with some exercise."

Funding for the project came from a £15,000 grant from the Science and Technology Facilities Council's Public Engagement Fund. The project was inspired by the solo show ‘Into Our Skies’ created by Lucy and has been supported by UCLanDance.

The free work schene can be accessed by registering online at https://uclan.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/ios-schools-registration