The Astronomical Midlands: Engaging Rural Communities with Astronomy

We are delighted to launch a new engagement project in 2019 – the Astronomical Midlands or AstroLands for short – that uses the recently constructed Irish Low Frequency Array (I-LOFAR) and Education Centre at Birr Castle to connect with students, teachers and members of the public in rural communities in the Midlands.

Astronomical Midlands, funded by Science Foundation Ireland Discover Programme, will embark on three key initiatives:

o Space4Exploration: Create an engaging, inspirational and multi-use space in the I-LOFAR Education Centre.

o Space4Students: Launch day-long and week-long space camps at the Education Centre that run during school term and school holidays for students aged 10 to 14.

o Space4Teachers: Create CPD workshops for upper primary and lower secondary school teachers based around the National Junior Certificate themes of Earth and Space.

Astronomical Midlands is overseen by our Project Manager, Aine Flood and Project Scientist Prof Peter Gallagher.  We will also recruit “Astronomical Ambassadors” to interact with visitors to Birr and to deliver space camps and teacher workshops.

Astronomical Midlands will open new conversations with groups that have had little involvement with STEM using our unique facility at Birr. Our project will allow people in the Midlands to discover opportunities for further education and careers in STEM and inspire the next generation of scientific explorers.

Astronomical Midlands is go for launch from February 2019!