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Celebrating science with space-themed carnival

Scientists are working with young people in Oxford to design and build colourful creations that celebrate the best of UK science for this year’s Cowley Road Carnival, thanks to funding from STFC.

The carnival takes place every year and regularly attracts 50,000 people. This year’s event, which is being held on July 7, will have a theme called Space is the Place and will celebrate the exciting work being carried out by scientists in and around Oxford, and commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing in July 1969.

With STFC funding, the organiser of the annual carnival, Cowley Road Works, has joined with Oxford University’s Department of Physics to connect four local community groups with four groups of Oxford academics. These groups have worked with artists to create four space-themed carnival structures for the procession.

The project focuses on four strands of space research in Oxford, these are: space instrumentation; galaxy evolution; the Extremely Large Telescope; multi-wavelength astronomy.

STFC’s Head of Skills and Public Engagement, Derek Gillespie, recently said:

“Scientists and engineers across Oxfordshire deliver some of the most exciting science in the world – and it is great that people living on the doorstep of this world-leading work will get to enjoy it in such a fun and imaginative way.

“More importantly, I hope that some of the people attending the carnival will be inspired to explore a little further in to the world of STEM and particularly space science. Perhaps some of the young attendees will become the rocket scientists of tomorrow.”

Over the past few months the community groups have been involved in a series of activities including stargazing and space inspirations days, as well as designing and building workshops.

Dr Sian Tedaldi, who heads outreach at Oxford Physics, was awarded an STFC grant to lead this project. She recently said:

“Working with Cowley Road Works offers a great opportunity to bring some of the inspiring and exciting STFC science and technology to an audience who might not otherwise get to enjoy it.

“This project has allowed us to reach out to and engage with groups currently unrepresented in these areas of study and work, and hopefully it has sparked their interest in science – and encouraged them to continue to learn about STEM.”

The community groups involved represent a cross-section of people facing barriers to participation in science and who are under-represented within STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) careers.

The community groups are Oxfordshire MIND, Ark T Centre’s ‘Children in Need’ Creativity Holiday Camps, Oxford Against Cutting and selected children in lower secondary school with low science attainment from Oxford Spires Academy.

Micaela Treadwell, Executive Director of Cowley Road Works recently said:

“We are thrilled to be working with STFC and Oxford Physics in this fantastic project which brings researchers, artists and local communities together to create art pieces inspired by STFC-enabled space research.

“You can see the results in the procession which will be the star attraction for Carnival Day. Expect a dazzling array of costumes and processional art inspired by the astronomy and space-research carried out here in Oxford.”

Find out more about Cowley Road Carnival here.


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