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Daphne Jackson Fellow ignites passion for astrophysics amongst children in care

Daphne Jackson Fellow Dr Carolyn Devereux, based at the University of Hertfordshire, has led a programme of events to engage children in care in astrophysics research.

Carolyn, a foster carer herself, organised bespoke observatory open days for children in care and their foster carers, and young people who are carers.

One event attracted 120 attendees new to astronomy, from toddlers and teenagers to adults, with activities such as planetarium shows, lab experiments and telescope demonstrations.

The programme is designed to accommodate the possibility of challenging behaviour, address traditionally low attendance rates among this audience and respond to specific learning needs, such as autism.

Carolyn who is based within the School of Physics, Astronomy and Maths, Centre for Astrophysics Research, at the University of Hertfordshire, worked with the council-run Hertfordshire Virtual School, which brings together children who are looked after.

At a Hertfordshire Virtual School residential event for Year 10 children in care, Carolyn organised a ‘Mission to Mars’ session to help motivate the children for their science GCSE. A school educational adviser said the children’s’ “thirst for science was definitely quenched”.

The University of Hertfordshire runs a wide-ranging astrophysics and astronomy public engagement and outreach programme, for which Bayfordbury Observatory, the University’s own teaching facility, acts as the hub.

Carolyn worked for the General Electric Company (GEC) in industrial research before her 12-year career break. She is returning to astrophysics research with a Daphne Jackson Fellowship, sponsored by the Science and Technology Facilities Council.

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