School children looking up at night sky in mobile planetarium

UK Space Agency boost for Life Science Centre

Newcastle’s Life Science Centre has been awarded a UK Space Agency cash boost to help expand its innovative work with schools from urban deprived or rural areas.

Life offers one of the most comprehensive space programmes in the North, with a dedicated space zone, a state-of-the-art planetarium, school workshops and adult events, exploring space and its relevance to our everyday lives.

The wide-ranging programme has received praise from astronauts including Helen Sharman, Tim Peake and Chris Hadfield, who have all visited Life.

This £97,000 grant will help expand Life’s Space Explorers programme, which was piloted last year and reached over 1,200 children in underserved or rural schools across the region.

It will fund a new cutting-edge mobile planetarium – a high-tech inflatable dome, which can be quickly set up in schools, to create a 360-degree blackout theatre to beam visuals of the universe.

As well as benefitting from the new mobile planetarium, schools taking part in the Space Explorers programme also get a free visit to the science centre with a curriculum-linked workshop and live online chats with scientists working in space-related industries.

Life Chief Executive, Linda Conlon, said: “Life’s extensive space engagement programme plays an important role in helping people understand the breadth of career opportunities in today’s space industry.

“As many schools across the region are in rural or urban deprived areas, this funding will help us to expand the vital work we do to reach children who may have never considered space as a future career option.

“We are targeting pupils aged between 9 and 11 years old as research shows that children are starting to opt out of science and modify their career aspirations by the age of 10, so this is a crucial time to provide an in-depth exploration of space and the skills required to succeed in the expanding sector.”

Extra funding from the Edina Trust, who supported the Space Explorers pilot project, will enable a further 30 schools to participate in the programme.

Professor Anu Ojha, Director of Championing Space at the UK Space Agency, said: “As part of the UK Space Agency’s long-term investment in space education and skills, our Space for All funding is backing projects that will engage young people from all backgrounds across the UK. Through long lasting interventions we aim to demonstrate the value of space to everyday life and the broad range of exciting future careers available, through Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) pathways and wider.

“This funding will see the Life Science Centre’s superb Space Explorers programme reach even more children in schools from deprived urban and rural areas. There are so many opportunities for young people in the North East’s growing space sector and I hope this work will support even more of them to keep aiming and reaching high.”

The next phase of the project, will begin this September and schools wishing to be considered for the programme can contact Life at