The staff at Armagh Observatory & Planetarium (AOP) have designed and written a brand-new children’s science book just in time for Christmas.

The “Big Book of Experiments and Bright Ideas” was inspired by the success of the Planetarium’s ‘Science@Home’ online programme, which AOP introduced during the lockdown to keep the public informed about the world of science. Seeing so many budding young scientists and their families engaged in science experiments in their homes during lockdown, the team at AOP realised the potential that putting together easily accessible information into an enjoyable book would have in creating a useful resource to access science in a fun and practical way.

A copy of the “Big Book of Experiments and Bright Ideas” will be sent to every primary school across the province, that’s around 850 copies, including a copy to all P7 pupils in the local Armagh schools.

Education Minister Michelle McIlveen joined some lucky Campbell College students who got a sneak preview of the new book at a special event at the Planetarium last week, ahead of the book’s official launch.

Within the brightly illustrated science book, it contains experiments with easy instructions to DIY, insightful walkthrough videos, “did you know” facts and much more, bringing out the scientist in you from the comfort of your classroom or home. There are dozens of fun tasks to try such as, making your own moon sand, to creating your own 3D planets, and producing your own intergalactic alien slime.

Education Officer, Ria Mee, from Armagh Observatory & Planetarium said, “Our mission at AOP is to carry out front-line astronomy research and to make science accessible and easy to understand for everyone through education. During the pandemic, we started out with a few experimental videos to keep people engaged and the ‘Science@Home’ series grew in popularity. It included online events with our research staff and other famous astronomers, virtual star-gazing sessions and the fun bit…science experiments to try at home! We are thrilled that this book has been made and that it is now accessible to all primary school children. Our hope is that kids will be inspired to embark on a future in science and maybe even give work experience with us a go.”

The “Big Book of Experiments and Bright Ideas” will be making their way to schools across the country over the next week in time for Christmas.

This science book has been funded by a Spark Award from the Science & Technology Facility Council (STFC) and supported by The Department for Communities. Copies will also be available to purchase at the Planetarium gift shop.