It’s blast-off for Armagh Observatory and Planetarium’s community outreach

Delivering fun-filled Zoom sessions has proved to be a ‘Sure Start’ way to spark an interest in learning about space and the Moon for children living in Armagh.

This month, the education team at Armagh Observatory and Planetarium (AOP) delivered a virtual learning class to children at the city’s ArKe Sure Start project, thanks to donations from the public.

The community outreach initiative also included the team from AOP presenting ArKe Sure Start with a number of space rockets – not the blasting off to the Moon kind, instead these rockets, while big enough for a child to climb into, are for colouring in purposes.

The virtual session, for children under five, explored the Moon and space through fun stories and sing-a-longs for the kids.

Lead by AOP Education Officer, Helen McLoughlin the session was one of two virtual classes which will be delivered to the children at ArKe Sure Start, with the second set to take place on Space Day.

Helen McLoughlin said: “We had so much fun delivering the class to the children at Sure Start. It was lovely to see them all so engaged and really enjoying taking part in the activities.

“You could see all the children engrossed in what was taking place on their screens while at the same time having so much fun doing the actions to the songs and listening to the stories.”

Rocket donations to ArKe Sure Start.

The next session, which will take place on May 7, will examine the planets and the solar system.

AOP Education and Outreach Manager, Sinead Mackle said the project has been made possible by the generosity of those who took part in AOP’s online programme during lockdown.

Sinead said: “During our free online activities over the past year there has been the option for members of the public to make a voluntary donation.

“These donations have been a sign that our online efforts have been appreciated by the public and we are delighted to be able to use this money as part of our community engagement activities.

“These initial sessions have been with the Armagh Sure Start group, but we are looking at ways we can roll this out across the other groups in the area. Giving back to the community is important to everyone at AOP and we are looking forward to welcoming these young people back in person to the Observatory and Planetarium when we can.”

ArKe Sure Start provides services for families living in the Keady, Callanbridge, Downs, Abbey Park, parts of the Mall and parts of the Observatory ward areas. The project aims to provide a central point for children’s services/programmes within the area, providing support to families from the ante-natal stage through to when their youngest child turns four.


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