University outreach programme recognised at national awards

By Tim Aldred

11 Dec 2023

The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) has been honoured at the Times Higher Education Awards for its outreach programme which combined dance with lessons about space.

The Into Our Skies: Space in Schools project was a collaboration between dance artists, scientists, and educators with a cross‐curricular approach to teaching science through dance in schools.

The six‐week scheme of work used movement and dance as a tool for primary pupils aged 9 to 11 to explore concepts of Earth and Space.

Studies have shown that not many children aspire to become scientists, and many outreach programmes have tried and failed to make science more appealing for young pupils.

UCLan says that what sets apart the Into Our Skies: Space in Schools programme is how it specifically addresses both curricular and pupil needs.

It is a collaboration between dance artists, scientists, and educators, giving equal weight to creative dance and scientific fact. The project offers a six-week programme that includes dance workshops, music, and science lessons. It also provides support for teachers to enhance their teaching methods. In total more than 200 teachers have joined the innovative scheme.

The project triumphed in the Widening Participation or Outreach Initiative of the Year category.

Dr Joanne Pledger, senior lecturer in astrophysics in the School of Engineering and Computing and the project’s lead, said: "This project has been a fantastic opportunity for scientists to work with dance artists to enhance how teachers teach the science curriculum and enthuse and engage primary pupils with science in a completely different way. We hope to be able to carry on this work in future."

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