Young boy's dream takes off

A Leicestershire boy was the inspiration behind the National Space Centre’s (NSC) community space club.

The NSC's community space club, in collaboration with Coalville C.A.N (CCAN), a locally focused engagement programme, was brought to life thanks to Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) funding. This ambitious initiative involved after-school sessions, family days, and more, providing a range of provisions for the local community.

Deana Bamford, the Network and Business Coordinator at CCAN, contacted Cevil J Bishop, the Community Engagement Manager at NSC, after hearing how a young boy contacted CCAN about creating a space club because he really wanted to learn more.

The two organisations decided to develop an After-School Space Club and conducted a local consultation in November 2022 to gather local input to better understand needs, interests and desired STEM provisions. Thanks to the consultation, the need for accessible science education was also identified, and the NSC team introduced a tailored STEM provision for post-16 pupils with special educational needs and disabilities. This group had not often had the opportunity to engage with or experience science in such an accessible manner, nor interact with influential figures in the space industry.

We’re interested to work with the space centre long-term. Colville is a place that is very disconnected; there is lots and lots of engineering and science around the edge, but the kids and the people in the middle are disconnected from it.

Deana Bamford, Coalville C.A.N
Child enjoys the space activities as part of the after school club

The project engaged children from 3-12 and teenagers through Space Up School assemblies, where demonstrations showcased the UK’s and Leicester’s role in space, and inspired students about potential career opportunities in the field. Additionally, a STEM evening filled with inspiring activities was organised in collaboration with STEM Ambassadors, Leicester Astronomical Society, the British Model Flying Association (BMFA), a local drone group, and local artists, with over 200 members of the Coalville community attending.

The partnership between NSC and CCAN proved highly valuable to Leicestershire’s Coalville, providing short-term enjoyment with long-term impacts. The success of the programme led to the development of a Community STEM Hub and “Train the Trainer” workshops for volunteers and STEM Ambassadors. This expansion allows capable volunteers to run sessions, potentially sustaining the After-School Space Club and other offerings.

Future plans involve reaching out to additional partners and collaborators to occupy additional days and provide weekly STEM provisions for the community. The NSC-CCAN partnership, supported by STFC funding, has empowered the local community, expanded access to STEM education, and fostered a vibrant and engaging environment for all involved.

It’s just been inspiration to work with these guys [NSC] – they’ve been reliable and awesome. Reliable is key… they deliver on what they say they are going to deliver, and that’s what’s so great working with the Space Centre.

Deana Bamford, Coalville C.A.N