Engaging the Public in Science and Increasing Awareness of Physics and Astronomy

Impact: Societial Impact


Our high profile astronomy research discoveries in areas of public interest have allowed us to substantially increase the engagement of the public with science. Media appearances have led to a philanthropic donation of £200k to promote our science, the most successful public event series ever in Northern Ireland (engaging around 2000 people), a strategic partnership with Ireland’s award winning science education centre W5 (reaching 26,000 people), and a 49% increase in applications to physics based degrees from NI students to UK HEIs. In 2008 we set three simple targets to substantially increase the public awareness of science and physics. The first was to increase our presence in the mass media (print, radio, TV, internet) to promote scientific research, and we have regularly reached audiences in excess of 295,000. The second was to increase the numbers of people attending science talks and events. The third was to substantially increase the application rate of school students to study physics and mathematics degrees. Through our outreach and engagement programme we have met, and surpassed, all of these targets. The impact of our research and our public outreach programme is a quantifiable societal change. Substantially more NI school students are now studying physics at third level UK HEIs.
Impact statusOngoing
Category of impactSocietial Impact