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Armagh Planetarium partners with Libraries NI to gift free science books

Pictured L-R are Helen McLoughlin, Operations Manager, Armagh Observatory and Planetarium, Cathy Donnelly, Branch Library Manager at Libraries NI and Ria Mee, Senior Education Officer, Armagh Observatory and Planetarium

The Armagh Observatory and Planetarium (AOP) has partnered with Libraries NI to distribute across the province 200 free copies of its brand-new children’s science book, “Big Book of Experiments and Bright Ideas.”

Designed and written by AOP staff, the book was inspired by the success of the Planetarium’s ‘Science@Home’ online programme, which AOP introduced during the lockdown to ensure that the Northern Ireland public retained access to information about the world of science.

The success of the programme, which saw budding young scientists and their families engage in at home science experiments, inspired the team at AOP to compile this easily accessible information into an engaging book that has proven a useful resource for those wishing to access science in a fun and practical way.

A copy of the “Big Book of Experiments and Bright Ideas” has been sent to each library across Northern Ireland, a total number of 200 copies which are now available in local libraries to borrow for free.

Brightly illustrated to appeal to inquisitive young minds, the book features experiments with easy instructions to DIY, along with insightful walkthrough videos, “did you know?” facts and much more, inspiring an interest in STEM amongst young people from the comfort of their classroom or home. There are dozens of fun tasks to try such as, ‘making your own moon sand,’ ‘creating your own 3D planets,’ and ‘producing your own intergalactic alien slime.’

Education Officer, Ria Mee, from Armagh Observatory and Planetarium said: “It is a pleasure to partner with Libraries NI on the distribution of our Big Book of Experiments and Bright Ideas. At AOP, our mission is to carry out front-line astronomy research and to ensure that we make science accessible to and digestible for everyone.

“Our hugely popular ‘Science@Home’ series was designed to keep people engaged with science during the pandemic. It included fun science experiments to try at home, along with virtual stargazing sessions. We are delighted that this book will be made accessible to school children in libraries across the country and hope that it will help to inspire NI’s future scientists.”

This science book has been funded by a Spark Award from the Science and Technology Facility Council (STFC) and supported by the Department for Communities.

Cathy Donnelly, Armagh City Branch Library Manager, commented: “We are proud to partner with Armagh Observatory and Planetarium on this exciting project. Libraries are committed to providing free access to books and information for all members of the community across Northern Ireland and providing our next generation with access to educational STEM materials is incredibly important.

“The Big Book of Experiments and Bright Ideas will be of particular interest to our Gadgeteers Summer Reading Challenge participants, inspiring their young minds whilst helping them to continue to read for pleasure during the summer holidays.”

Copies of the book will be available to purchase at the Planetarium gift shop.

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