The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) has won an award in recognition of its efforts to promote physics through community outreach projects.
UCLan’s Jeremiah Horrocks Institute (JHI) for Mathematics, Physics and Astronomy won the Departmental Culture Change Award at the inaugural Ogden Outreach Awards.
Held at The Royal Society, the Awards celebrate physics outreach and recognise the efforts of those involved in developing and delivering it. The JHI won the award in acknowledgement of a significant change in its working culture, allowing and supporting staff to focus on delivering physics-related activities to communities who otherwise may not have access to them.
Recent projects include Dr Megan Argo giving virtual tours of the night sky to more than 1,200 Girlguides during the pandemic and the online ‘Into Our Skies: Space in Schools’ scheme, set up by UCLan astronomer Dr Joanne Pledger and UCLan colleagues from UCLanDance, which challenged traditional science-learning and used dance to engage Years 5 and 6 pupils youngsters with the curiosity and excitement of scientific ideas.
The JHI was handed a £1,000 prize to invest further in this cultural change.
Dr Mark Norris, Lecturer in Astronomy, said: “Outreach and public engagement is a key focus for the Jeremiah Horrocks Institute and the University as a whole. “As a department we take part in a lot of projects to make science accessible to the wider community and inspire the next generation, from the award-winning Lancashire Science Festival to school visits. To be recognised for this work by the Ogden Trust is fantastic and is testament to the hard work the staff from the JHI put into outreach activities.”
Ogden Trust Programme Manager Adam Boal said: “We hope that these awards can raise the profile of all the incredible physics outreach work being undertaken across the country and highlight best practice in the field.
“We were overwhelmed by the number and quality of the nominations we received and selecting the winners was both a privilege and a challenge. We hope that these awards will help to build and sustain momentum for university physics outreach, which is so important in raising aspirations and improving access to future physics pathways.”
In total, five awards were made with the winners of each receiving £1,000 to help continue and advance their work; a further 17 awards were made to individual undergraduate and postgraduate ambassadors to thank them for their contributions to outreach.