Globally recognised astronomical research centre, Armagh Observatory and Planetarium, held a graduation ceremony on June 27th in its 360-degree dome to mark the conclusion of the ‘Space Cadet Club,’ its inaugural after school STEM education programme for 7- to 11-year-olds.

The initiative, which ran from April to June 2023, saw 15 pupils aged from 7 to 11 years of age engage in STEM education, in a series of themed, one-hour weekly sessions. It was supported by the International Astronomical Union’s Office of Astronomy Development and was delivered by Armagh Observatory and Planetarium, in partnership with the AmmA Centre.

Intended to inspire the next generation of STEM leaders, the scheme focused on making education in the areas of Space, science and technology accessible to young people from all backgrounds.

Participating pupils, or ‘Space Cadets,’ engaged in a series of fun and interactive STEM-based educational activities, utilising a variety of media, including arts and crafts, music and sound and technology. Activities included a ‘Space Jam session,’ during which they created a unique piece of music which was dedicated to the planets of the Solar System.

These collective compositions were collated to create a piece of ‘Space music’ which was played for the first time with accompanying visuals during Tuesday’s graduation ceremony. The event also saw the young ‘Space Cadets’ receive certificates of participation.

Ramasamy Venugopal, Operations Manager at the Office of Astronomy for Development, says, “We are excited that the first International Astronomical Union’s Office of Astronomy Development project in Northern Ireland turned out to be a great success.

“We would like to express our gratitude to the Armagh team for creating a positive impact on their community.”

Armagh Observatory and Planetarium is sited in a heritage environment with a rich scientific history. The organisation delivers internationally recognised research in astronomy and related sciences and vibrant educational and outreach programmes for all ages.

Nick Parke, Education Officer at Armagh Observatory and Planetarium, comments, “We would like to congratulate all of the pupils who graduated from our first after school club and would like to thank the International Astronomical Union’s Office of Astronomy Development  for its support, along with our delivery partner, the AmmA centre.

“At Armagh Observatory and Planetarium, we are passionate about education, and it is our mission to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers from all backgrounds.

“The after-school club was designed to engage young participants aged 7 to 11 in STEM education and to spark their curiosity with fun activities to help them develop new skills and provide them with social interaction and new and enjoyable experiences.

“The scheme has been incredibly successful, and we hope to return with a new cohort in September 2023.”

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