The NASA in Aberdeen: Inspiring the Next Generation project aimed to inspire young people to engage with STEM and to demonstrate the excitement and satisfaction the many and varied careers in STEM can bring; be that in space, offshore or closer to home. The project looked to achieve this with the help of retired NASA Astroaut Rick Hieb and current NASA Space Scietist, Dr Sue Lederer.
Summary of activity:
Aberdeen Science Centre brought together a steering group of various companies and STEM Learning providers in Aberdeen including; the Society of Petroleum Engineers (Aberdeen Section), Energy Institute, Society for Underwater Technology. Robert Gordon’s College, Mearns and Gill and TechFest. This steering group planned and coordinated a programme of activities centred around visiting retired NASA Astronaut Rick Heib and NASA Space Scientist Dr Sue Leader. The programme included: two days of Primary school activities ran at ASC including a talk and Q&A session with the visitors from NASA; a talk and Q&A session for Secondary school pupils held at Robert Gordon’s College; an evening public lecture held at Robert Gordon’s College and a family weekend held at ASC. Overall the project engaged with roughly 2,700 people.
What went well:
1. Primary School children engaged enthusiastically with the hands-on activities. Providing a range of different activities alongside an opportunity to ask the NASA staff their questions kept the children engaged throughout the morning or afternoon.
2. Working with many varied partners allowed real engineers and experts to get involved - this worked really well during the family weekend as these engineers brought hands-on activities to the weekend
3. Running separate events for different audiences allowed the project to engage with a varied audience while keeping the events relevant and engaging
What was learned:
1. From teacher feedback we learned that even a short time spent with the NASA team was engaging and relevant for the pupils
2. When this project runs in 2018 we will re-visit how to run the family weekend - this event was ticket only and did leave walk-in visitors disappointed
3. A longer lead in time is required for Secondary Schools due to timetabling