Sun and stars bring families together

UCLan’s Astrocamp attracted children and parents to free astronomy sessions

Lancashire children and their parents have been learning together about astronomy thanks to a University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) outreach programme.

Astrocamp saw youngsters aged between seven and 11 and their families learn about stars, constellations, the sun and the moon through fun hands-on activities.

Dr Aimilia Smyrli, from UCLan’s Jeremiah Horrocks Institute for Mathematics, Physics and Astronomy, led the project alongside physics undergraduates, UCLan’s Communication and Engagement Team and the Ogden Trust.

She said: “Young ones have curious minds. Parents will no doubt have experienced questions such as ‘why is the sky blue?’ and ‘can you fall off the Earth?’ Questions like these need to be resolved in a practical way so these sessions allowed us the opportunity to inform all members of the family about planetary elements of intrigue in fun and interactive sessions.

“Projects like Astrocamp are so important because they inspire children to interact with science. They also offer the chance for people to interact with the University community and find out more about the work we do to bring science and astronomy to people of all ages and levels.”

Around 60 people attended each session during seven Sundays in Preston’s Harris Museum.

Dr Smyrli said: “Every week we got extremely positive feedback from the participants. There were always comments on the learning and knowledge that parents and children had gained as well as how much fun they had through creating things with their own hands. We were even told that some children spent Saturday nights studying the topic for the next Sunday because they loved it so much. It was really heartening to see people return each week with big smiles on their faces.”

On International Women’s Day, 8 March, the team celebrated by talking about inspirational women who have had an impact on the world with their scientific achievements. They included Marie Curie, Hedy Lamarr, Hypatia and Jocelyn Bell Burnell.

Due to the success of the programme, there are already plans to run another scheme.