Thanks to the work of the Milne Centre in widening participation and raising aspirations, there has been a doubling of students arriving to study astrophysics at the University of Hull, with numbers from the HU postcode tripling. The feedback from schools includes the following.
The University of Hull’s outreach activities have had such a hugely positive and very valuable impact at our school in encouraging an interest in space and science. [The focus on] ‘Extreme astrophysics’ has encouraged far greater enthusiasm for STEM fields and changed career ambitions for many. […] Many of the pupils do not have a chance to attend museums or have much discussion of an educational nature at home. Children have therefore benefited hugely with a positive and lasting effect on their mind-set, attitude, attainment and ambition.
You have done more in this region than you realise: Research challenges the way we think about a specific subject. Your approach is challenging the way many will think across a broad range of subjects in your field...AND MAKING IT ACCESSIBLE FOR WOMEN. Keep shining a light, I've seen the ripples you make with the younger children I've worked with. Sparks take a while to catch.
I absolutely loved your talk so much. Especially your recognition that it's not all about the 'A' students, but how you empower those with lower grades to realise they have opportunities in STEM. […] I honestly can't tell you how great it is to see someone doing something with real impact for real people.
The Centre has built lasting partnerships with schools, teachers and other regional bodies. The Hull and East Riding Astronomical Society has seen a 25% increase in attendance and membership since 2014.
Training in computational skills and STEM literacy
The impact extends beyond school children. One teacher (whose school works with the Centre) is now doing a part-time PhD as a direct offshoot of our engagement. Likewise, several students have chosen to study PGCE Physics to become teachers (aligning with the ethos of the UK Industrial Strategy).
The Centre has extended its outreach internationally with CPD workshops for 20 Thai teachers and 60 schoolchildren through the Python Workshops project.
The Science Leaders across the region were unanimous in their praise for the support you provide and the inspirational job you are doing. Thank you for being passionate enough to want to make a difference in the region. You are doing it!
East Riding of Yorkshire Council Teaching and Learning Officer
Women in Physics
Our award-winning Changing the Face of Physics initiative doubled the number of women studying Physics at Hull.
The campaign was named “Best Practice in the UK” by the UK Equality Challenge Unit and resulted in an Athena Swan Award.
Through the events that I have had the pleasure of participating in at Hull, including the Space link Schools Day with 150+ students from a dozen regional schools and colleges, I have experienced first-hand how the Milne Centre approach to outreach really creates a long-term impact on the participants. In particular, the focus on raising aspirations in the most deprived regional areas and work towards redressing the gender balance in the UK Physics and STEM landscape is of prime importance and echoes both national and international priorities.
Helen Sharman (CMG, OBE)
Western European woman in space and a public engagement champion
Plans are afoot to build on the success of the STFC Thai PASS programme and pursue a parallel model in the UK with KS4/5 students from the lower two quintiles of the IMD scale to increase the uptake of computing-focussed STEM careers in the region. The Centre is also working with the East Riding of Yorkshire Council Education Team to extend schools provision across all levels from Early Years to KS5.
Our follow-up campaign - “Breaking Barriers”- aims to widen participation with a focus on LGBTQ+, racial, religious, and socio-economic diversity.
Publications and Outputs
Miranda, M.S., Pilkington, K., Gibson, B.K., et al. 2016, Astronomy & Astrophysics, Volume 587
Ruiz-Lara, T, Few, C.G., Gibson, B.K., et al. 2016, Astronomy & Astrophysics, Volume 586
Pignatari, M., et al. 2016, Apish, The Astrophysical Journal
Gordon, Y.A., Owners, M.S., Pimbblet, K.A., et al. 2018, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 465
Pignatari, M., …, Gibson, B.K., et al. 2015, The Astrophysical Journal Letters, 808
Mulla, M., et al. 2015, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 451