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Professional Feedback: Space Science Celebrations

Since January this year, our Students from SOCOPA have been presenting space science activities to families in our local community.

These family activities, although being delivered online, have been a great help in getting families to have something fun and interactive during the lockdown period. Families were able to destress and have an enjoyable time while learning something new about space.

Over the course of these sessions’ students have shown families how to make rocket mice, spinners, jumping beans, planispheres- only to name a few- as well as having explained the science behind them.

Our students also presented historic and modern-day scientific research about the aurora and the sun along with a special planetarium session on constellations.

The combination of hard work from Sarah Langford from Sphere Science, Dr Helen Mason from the University of Cambridge Dr Jennifer Carter from the University of Leicester and our Students and staff from SOCOPA had made the Space science celebration a complete success and was recognised by the Mayor of Leicester, Sir Peter Soulsby, who graciously gave our students their certificates.

Here are some of the feedback we have received from the amazing people who helped us make all of this happen:

Dear Maddy, Sarah and Abdikayf,

I just wanted to give some feedback on the SOCOPA collaboration.

Sarah and Abdikayf (and his team) have done a fantastic job, against all
the odds. We started the project way back before lockdown, and had several
‘in person’ Saturday workshop sessions. The original plan was to work
towards a ‘family’ science celebration day. I have very much enjoyed
working with the Somali community. The parents and children seemed very
enthusiastic and engaged, together with a few key helpers from SOCOPA. The
students were responsive to my workshop about the Sun, which involved a
talk and some activities, and they asked lots of questions. Jenny also ran
a workshop about the Aurora and magnetism etc. Sarah worked with us both to
provide appropriate science activities. We then had a visit to the National
Space Centre which was very engaging and enjoyable.

Then came lockdown and sadly none of the planned activities could be
carried out in the way we had planned. It is with great determination that
Sarah and Abdikayf re-imagined the project in order to carry it on
virtually. An additional grant from STFC provided much needed funding for
resources to support the online delivery. Sarah was truely amazing in the
way she encouraged and supported the young people to engage and deliver
workshops to Somali families, with talks about the Sun, aurora and also a
planetarium. They also engaged the younger children with science activities
which Sarah (SphereScience) had developed. These she prepared and sent as
individual packs. Her persistence was rewarded by the growth in confidence
of the young people who delivered the workshops, culminating in a
celebration attended by the Mayor of Leicester. He said that he rarely
accepted invitations for activities at the weekend, but this one he just
couldn’t miss. He was very enthusiastic in his praise for the project and
the students, who all received certificates of attainment from STFC.

This was a steep learning curve for everyone involved, but also very
rewarding. It has been a great honour to be involved. I am very proud of
what the students have achieved under such difficult circumstances.

Helen

Dr Helen E. Mason OBE
University of Cambridge

Dear Abdikayf, Munna, and Yahye,
I just wanted to write to say thank you for everything you have done with regards to the Space Celebration event. The students did phenomenally well and I hope they have fantastic sense of achievement.

When we can, I would like to maintain our links, and organise further events or visits with the University of Leicester. The most likely scenario is that campus life resumes in full from September onwards. Teaching and activities are starting already there, but the University is understandably cautious so from autumn onwards would be the most realistic earliest date.

Best wishes, Jenny

Dr Jennifer Carter (she/her)                       
Dept. of Physics and Astronomy, 
University of Leicester

The Mayor of Leicester, Sir Peter Soulsby, at our Space Science Celebration

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The Somali Community Parents Association (SOCOPA) was set up in 2005 with the aim of helping Somali refugees and migrants in Leicester understand and access key services including health, education and housing. We act as a focal point for the community, offering practical support and leadership to improve people’s lives.

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