Putting Communities First with Astronomy
The aim of this project was to take Astronomy to Communities First areas within the county of Wrexham. Communities First is the Welsh Government's flagship programme to improve the living conditions and prospects for people in the most disadvantaged communities across Wales.
• To engage with 100-150 people at each event, this would ideally include a minimum of 50 people from the Communities First areas hosting the event.
• To provide attendees with a positive, accessible and quality engagement with contemporary physics in order to inspire, enthuse and encourage further interaction with the subject.
• To make physics available and accessible to communities that are disadvantaged and to remove the barrier of social inequality by providing free events in the local area.
Summary of activity:
Two stargazing events were provided within the Communities First areas of Caia Park and Plas Madoc, as well as engaging with families from other surrounding Communities First areas. Each evening consisted of live interactive planetarium shows which gave the audience a first-hand experience of what they could look for in the night sky including the moon, winter constellations and the planet Jupiter. Presenters guided the visitors through informal stargazing using binoculars and telescopes. Science busking was used to entertain waiting members of the public and space themed craft was on offer such as Planispheres and cardboard tube rockets. The busking provided opportunities to talk to members of the public and enthuse them with simple but effective science demonstrations, some of which they could go on to try at home as a family.
Each family or group that came to the events were given an evaluation form on entry, although not all were returned as hoped. Staff realised that it was necessary to remind people as they were leaving to fill in the evaluation.
What went well:
1. The Stardome Planetarium was the most popular with some people having never seen one before.
2. 78% of people came from the Communities First areas and the school venue also saw the most people arriving by foot.
3. 80% had also not visited Techniquest Glyndŵr before so it gave them the opportunity to gain a new and positive experience.
4. Staff at the school commented how encouraging it was to see parents/ carers making the crafts together with their children.
What was learned:
1. The craft was so popular at the school venue that resources were in short supply towards the end of the evening.
2. The evening at the Leisure and Activity Centre did not receive as many visitors may be due to flyers not being given to the local schools to give out.
3. Some parents commented that the evenings were running quite late in the evening for their younger children. We tried to accomodate for this by making the Planetarium shows slightly shorter so that we could fit more in earlier on.
Top tips and advice for others
1. Market family events through local primary schools.
2. Prepare more craft resources than you think you will need.
3. Run the event at a time which will be suitable to the variety of age groups who may attend, for example, take in to account that younger children will need to go to bed earlier so these families won't be able to stay as late.