18 March 2008
The UK's first Space Academy has blasted off on a mission to inspire thousands of young people — and encourage them to look skywards for a future career.
Lift-off for Space Academy
The Space Academy, based at the National Space Centre in Leicester and supported with the strong involvement of The University of Nottingham, will offer summer space schools, roadshows, projects and many other initiatives designed to enthuse young people with an interest in science, aerospace, engineering and maths through the inspiration of space.
Thousands of pupils and students, and hundreds of teachers, will have the chance to learn from some of the world's leading space experts as part of the £990,000 project. The Space Academy, funded by the East Midlands Development Agency (emda), will help to establish the East Midlands as a leading European region in this field.
The country's first Space Academy will open its doors later this year to young people from schools and colleges throughout the East Midlands.
The University of Nottingham will be a key player in the Academy through its international expertise in satellite navigation and its strong links to industry. The University's Institute for Engineering Surveying and Space Geodesy (IESSG) is a world leader in satellite navigation technology and positioning systems.
Professor Terry Moore, Director of IESSG, said: “The Space Academy is a project that couples the UK's proven areas of excellence at the cutting edge of space technology and innovation with the subject that so often provokes inspiration and wonder in young people — in a programme that sustainably addresses the pressing needs of business, industry and the country's future competitiveness in a global market.
“The UK has a thriving space industry and world-leading areas of expertise in space sciences and climate change modelling. It's crucial that we maintain this lead — and the Space Academy will be a huge boost in this area.”
The Space Academy will be set up at the National Space Centre in Leicester, with partners at the University of Nottingham, University of Leicester, the Regional Science Learning Centre for the East Midlands and STEMNET, a government-funded initiative to encourage interest among young people in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM).
The Space Academy will provide education programmes, summer space schools, roadshows and conferences, built around schools' curricula in science, technology, engineering and maths — using space as the inspirational hook.
It is aimed at pupils and students from 9–19 years of age, and their teachers, encouraging and supporting them to consider the benefits and challenges of careers in these fields. It will draw on the skills and reputations of Universities in the region, which are international leaders in space-related subjects, and employers who need scientists and engineers.
Over three years, the Academy will involve more than 3,800 pupils and students, including those studying for BTECs, GCSEs, A-levels, and pupils at primary schools and in their first years of secondary school. It will also offer 225 science teacher placements in space-related science training relating to basic space science, planetary exploration, climate change and global positioning technology.
Professor Alan Wells of the University of Leicester, who led the Space Academy bid, said: “I am excited at the prospect of the Space Academy providing young people, and their teachers, with unique insights of the role of space in modern life; science, technology, the environment, history, human issues, even artistic creation.
“We will be helped by some of the world's leading experts in space science and will be adding to the successful science education programmes already being delivered by the National Space Centre and its partners. The Partnership is grateful for emda's vision and support.”
The Academy will be complementary to related emda-funded activities such as Careers Pathways and Workforce Development, NEREUS — the Network of European Regions Using Space technologies — and GRACE, the Global Navigation Satellite Systems Research and Applications Centre of Excellence, which is in Nottingham.
Projects will cover important applications of space in curriculum topics including earth sciences, geography, geology, the Earth's bio-system and ecology. These new projects will be developed within the framework of the Space Academy and will inform and educate students on the role of space technology in climate change and the Earth's environment and global and regional navigation.
The new programmes will be developed jointly by education specialists at the National Space Centre and world-leading experts in these important areas of space activity from the Universities of Nottingham and Leicester. A series of summer road shows is also planned, aimed at the 14-16 age group, to take space school programmes out into the region using bases at The University of Nottingham, Bishops Grossteste University and Leicester University.
Visits to the National Space Centre, the Universities' space research laboratories and space industry facilities will be arranged. The Space Academy will also serve as an information source for career opportunities in the high tech aerospace sector, via careers fairs, site visits to industry and regional industry participation in the Space Conference. The aim is to create a Space Academy Industry Liaison Group of representative space and aerospace companies in the region. These currently include Rolls Royce, Astrium, Infoterra, Nottingham Scientific, Zeeko, and a number of small and medium-sized enterprises.
Dr Bryan Jackson, Chairman of emda, said: “The Space Academy is a terrific initiative and is testament to the globally renowned skills we have in the East Midlands in space research, education and communication. We are delighted to support such an imaginative programme to help increase the number and quality of scientists and engineers available to business in the East Midlands and the UK.”
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