Free new app launched to help children engage creatively with STEM subjects through interactive science adventure
• Contains exclusive video from Tim Peake
• Arts organisation Unlimited Theatre in collaboration with the Met Office, the Royal Observatory Greenwich, the Science Museum, Young Rewired State, British Science Association, the European Space Agency and the UK Space Agency
Launches 10th January 2017
In 2015, to coincide with Tim Peake becoming the first British astronaut aboard the International Space Station, the Unlimited Space Agency (UNSA) launched The Astro Science Challenge, a story-led series of interactive tasks designed to engage children aged 7-11 with STEM subjects. UNSA, whose mission is to inspire and help train the next generation of young scientists and space explorers, worked in collaboration with some of the UK’s top science organisations to create high quality lesson plans accompanied by videos with guest appearances from Tim Peake. Project creators the Unlimited Space Agency are now launching a free new app for iOS and Android to allow children to take part in the project and be inspired by Tim’s mission indefinitely.
The app is a new tool to engage children in STEM subjects. It can be used on the move, in the class room or at home on phones, tablets or computers. Using the app, Cadets are tasked with missions, which are presented through videos on the app and helped along by parents or teachers who are provided with extensive lesson plans and resources. Each mission uses examples from Tim’s time in space creatively linked to the national curriculum. To complete each mission, Cadets upload videos, pictures and writing to evidence their work, which is marked by their Team Leader. Badges are awarded for each successful mission and unlock the next episode in the story. Each task is part of the immersive story world created by the artists at Unlimited, and has been co-designed with teachers and with scientists from UNSA’s partner organisations:
The Royal Observatory (Astronomy)
The Met Office (Space Weather)
The Science Museum (Human Spaceflight)
Young Rewired State (Computer Science & Coding)
British Science Association (Humanities)
ESA / UK Space Agency “Mission X” (PE, Health and Nutrition)
Tim Peake is a British European Space Agency Astronaut and patron of the Unlimited Space Agency. This project is one of the official education projects supported by the UK Space Agency surrounding Tim’s mission. He said, “The Unlimited Space Agency is great. Their approach to inspiring children about science is rigorous, fun and it works! I’m proud to serve with them on their mission to inspire the next generation of scientists and space explorers.”
The project has been tested and developed over several years, winning the National Charity Award for inspiring children in science through the arts, the Sir Arthur Clarke Award for achievement in Space Education & Outreach, and the WISE Champion Award for encouraging girls with STEM subjects. Since the latest version in November 2015 (to coincide with Tim Peake’s launch to the ISS), over 10,000 people have engaged with the project. Over 300 children attended the Graduation Ceremony at the Science Museum and watched Tim Peake’s launch live in the IMAX cinema.
The Unlimited Space Agency (UNSA) has been developed by Unlimited Theatre. In 2010, Unlimited’s artistic director Jon Spooner accidentally set up his own space agency. Based out of his garden shed, the Unlimited Space Agency (UNSA) started as a fun way to tell stories about science to children. They design and deliver multi-award-winning, inspirational projects for children and young people aged 7-16 that increase engagement with and raise levels of attainment in STEM subjects. UNSA aims to help address the long term decline in the participation of young people in science and, in particular, to create more opportunities and positive role models for girls and young women.
Jon Spooner said, ““The arts have massive value when inspiring and educating children, particularly by encouraging an active engagement – one in which the participants have genuine agency, with the ability to influence decisions, stories and outcomes. It’s something we believe in passionately at Unlimited because we experience it at work, every day.”