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Lift-off as planetarium delivers free science books to libraries

'We hope that it will help to inspire Northern Ireland’s future scientists'

Pictured, from left, are Helen McLoughlin, AOP, Cathy Donnelly, Libraries NI, and Ria Mee, AOP.

Two hundred copies of a new science book by Armagh Observatory & Planetarium (AOP) have been distributed to every library in Northern Ireland.

The Big Book of Experiments and Bright Ideas was designed and written by planetarium staff.

It was inspired by the success of the planetarium’s Science@Home online programme, introduced during lockdown to ensure the 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 science experiments at home, inspired the team to compile the easily accessible information into an book.

Brightly illustrated to appeal to inquisitive young minds, the book features experiments with easy instructions, walkthrough videos, ‘did you know?’ facts and much more.

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 & 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 Northern Ireland’s future scientists.”

Cathy Donnelly, Armagh City Branch Library manager, said: “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.”

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

Copies will be available to purchase at the planetarium gift shop.

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