Leading astronomical research and education centre, Armagh Observatory and Planetarium, has been announced as one of 12 UK-based science centres to have been awarded a £9,500 grant by The Association for Science and Discovery Centres (ASDC) to take part in its ‘Explore Your Universe: Valuing Inclusion project.’ 

Explore Your Universe Valuing Inclusion is a national STEM project run by ASDC, funded by the Science Technology Facilities Council (STFC) part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). 

It forms part of the longstanding ‘Explore Your Universe’ programme run by ASDC in collaboration with many of the science centres and museums around the UK. 

The programme focuses on co-developing a Logic Model that defines, guides, supports and evidences meaningful practice in values-led, inclusive STFC science engagement within the Informal Science Learning sector. 

The Logic Model will be developed in collaboration with Informal Science Learning researchers, the British Science Association, and in-depth understanding from 12  science and discovery centres from ASDC’s UK-wide network. 

The grants have been awarded to science and discovery centres to facilitate the in-depth exploration of participant experiences, working with community partners to provide evidence and explore the areas and assumptions of the developing Logic Model. 

Armagh Observatory and Planetarium will use the funding to investigate how inclusion in science engagement functions as a positive factor in unlocking diversity in STEM fields. 

Working with community partner, More Than Words, the organisation will facilitate site visits from Special Educational Needs schools, local groups, charities and organisations. 

Joanne McCracken, Chairperson at More Than Words, says, “We are excited to partner with Armagh Observatory and Planetarium as it participates in the Explore Your Universe: Valuing Inclusion project. 

“At More Than Words, we aim to help families and children with autism, and I hope that our work with Armagh Observatory and Planetarium will help to remove barriers to accessing STEM research and facilities for those with Special Educational Needs.” 

Other recipients of the grant include: Aberdeen Science Centre; Cambridge Science Centre; Catalyst Science Discovery Centre; Dundee Science Centre; Dynamic Earth; Jodrell Bank; National Space Centre; Royal Astronomical Society; Techniquest; W5 and; We The Curious. 

Mark Grimley Education Assistant at Armagh Observatory and Planetarium, adds, “We would like to thank The Association for Science and Discovery Centres for selecting Armagh Observatory and Planetarium to participate in this important project. We very much look forward to engaging along with our community partner, More Than Words. 

“At Armagh Observatory and Planetarium, we deliver internationally recognised research in astronomy and related sciences, along with vibrant educational and outreach programmes for all ages. 

“As such, we’re passionate about ensuring that our resources are accessible to all, including those with Special Educational Needs. 

“During the project we intend to assess participants’ experiences and we hope that our partnership with More Than Words will enable us to ask the right questions.” 

To find out more about Armagh Observatory and Planetarium, visit: https://www.armagh.space