15,000 free books for UK schools to celebrate global space mission

13 Jun 2019 12:50 PM

To celebrate the UK’s involvement with one of the most globally-anticipated space missions, the James Webb Space Telescope, STFC is launching a new project to encourage thousands of British students to realise their inner space scientist by offering them new teaching resources that include 15,000 free books.

In partnership with Curved House Kids, STFC has today launched a new primary education programme called Deep Space Diaries, which introduces students to astronomy, physics, engineering and space science through the story of the James Webb Space Telescope. As part of this programme, STFC and Curved House are giving away 15,000 free Deep Space Diary books to UK schools – and teachers now are being invited to register for a free box of materials.

The Deep Space Diary is the third book in a series – with the previous two inspired by ESA Astronaut Tim Peake’s 2015 Principia mission.

The James Webb Space Telescope (or simply Webb), due to launch in 2021, is the largest space telescope ever built – in fact it will be the size of a tennis court when deployed. It is expected to reveal even more about the Universe than its famous predecessor, Hubble.

Webb is a global project, led by NASA, with some of its key experts coming from the UK and Europe. STFC has led the team of scientists and engineers who designed and built a vital instrument for Webb – the mid-infrared instrument (MIRI), an infrared camera and spectrometer that will make observations of the universe and send the data back to Earth.

The Deep Space Diary uses puzzles, stories and other activities to make this scientific feat accessible for key stage 2 students. The diary was developed with and features a diverse group of real engineers and astronomers, including STFC’s own staff, who have worked on Webb or will use its data to understand the Universe.

Director of STFC’s UK Astronomy Technology Centre (UKATC), Professor Gillian Wright – who is the European Principle Investigator for MIRI – said: “Celebrating the involvement that the UK has in this revolutionary mission, whilst at the same time giving children an insight in to how exciting being involved in a space science mission can be makes this a very special project; after all they will be the scientists and engineers of the future.”

From today (Thursday 13th June) primary schools in the UK are invited to register at discoverydiaries.org for a chance to receive a free box of 30 Deep Space Diaries plus stickers and a Mission Log poster for their class. Registration closes on July 5th and books will be allocated to schools on a first-come, first-served basis with priority given to those in disadvantaged areas or with a higher percentage of free school meals.

But any school that misses out, or home educating families and community groups who wish to get involved, can also register to access the free online programme, or purchase copies of the printed diaries via the online bookshop. Books will be delivered in September 2019, at the beginning of the new school year.

Teachers will be fully supported with an online portal containing over 60 hours of classroom and home learning activities, teaching notes, curriculum guides (for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland), extension activities, multimedia resources and more.

The Deep Space Diary was developed with Dr Olivia Johnson at STFC’s UKATC, who said: “It has been an honour to be involved in the development of this project, and to collaborate with so many creative people from the arts, education and STEM sectors. We have all worked together to create something that we hope will not only inspire children but also  give them a taste for space exploration on the grandest scale possible.”

Useful links

To register for the books, visit this website discoverydiaries.org

For more information on the publisher, visit Curved House Kids Ltd