To bring enriching educational opportunities to people who would not usually have the opportunity to take advantage of them by weaving them into the fabric of their everyday experience. We brought astronomy to adults going about their daily shopping by bringing a pop up Planetarium to Ramsgate Town Centre on its busiest days. Entrance to the event was free.
To attract at least 240 adults over a two day period to the planetarium; give them a guided 'star show' and the opportunity to ask questions; teach them how to use a planisphere which they could keep and take away; encourage them to take part in a related arts activity;make sure the event as a whole was as memorable and accessible as possible.
Summary of activity:
We created a brand relating to the event, ‘Planet Discovery,’ so that we could replicate the model if it proved to be successful and introduce other areas of science education. We chose a Town Centre venue adjacent to the market where the inflatable planetarium would create as much of a spectacle as possible; we spent a lot of care and time decorating the venue to make it look as exciting and high quality as possible. Kent University’s Physics Outreach Team gave up to 7 ‘star shows’ per day. Afterwards we gave everyone a free cardboard planisphere and showed them how to use it. We also asked them to write a dedication or a wish upon a wooden star. These have been collected together and are being hung from a Town Centre tree over a period of a week to form Ramsgate’s own constellation. Prior to the vent a great deal of time was spent on outreach to publishes the event to groups who we thought might need extra encouragement to attend.We publicised it widely using social media.
We counted visitor numbers and asked as many as possible to complete a simple exit questionnaire evaluating the experience, telling us what they liked/ disliked, what they had learnt and whether they wanted to find out more. They also gave some brief demographic information. We counted and recorded press mentions and social media likes etc. Counted volunteer assistants and asked University Team for a short feedback report of their experience.
What went well:
1.We exceeded our predicted number of visitors by almost 100%.
2. 85% of visitors rated the event as 'very good' and the event created a 'buzz' in Town over the two days.
3. We managed to attract a very wide cross section of the adult population including a large number of those who fitted a 'harder to reach' profile.
What was learned:
1.That time spent on presentation and creating an event with a slick, high quality appearance is well worth it.
2.That creating a clear message about what the event was was important in terms of bringing people in.
3. That making it clear that the event was FREE attracted many people who would not otherwise have come.(Ramsgate is the 4th most deprived seaside town in Britain and income levels tend to be very low).
Top tips and advice for others
1.If you are targeting 'harder to reach' groups, make sure that it is clear exactly what the event is and include as many elements of spectacle and fun as possible.Also make it Free if at all possible.
2.Create a brand relating to the event so that you can replicate the model if it proves to be successful and introduce other areas of science education.
3.If your target audience is adults, provide a time slot specifically for those with toddlers or small children.