Operation Earth is a national STEM engagement project run by the Association for Science and Discovery Centres (ASDC) and in partnership with the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). The project aims to bring the relevance of NERC’s climate and environmental science and research to life among children and families.
The project ran in science and discovery centres across the UK, including W5, from October 2021-March 2022 with the majority of activities being directly linked to COP26 in November 2021. The activities provided children and families with the opportunity to find out what environmental scientists are working on, and to practice these skills for themselves. Attendees took part in hands on activities including using a leaf blower to collect air samples and investigate air quality, looking at the carbon footprint of popular foods and learning how pollination works, as well as meeting NERC scientists. An evaluation of Operation Earth found that:
Association for Science and Discovery Centres Chief Executive Shaaron Leverment said: “Operation Earth has demonstrated the crucial role that science and discovery centres, museums and eco-attractions play in delivering accessible, hands-on and place-based climate and environmental science engagement activities. Science and discovery centres and museums collaborated with local industry, key environmental researchers and policy makers across the UK. These local partnerships result in relevant and empowering experiences for schools, families and young people, supporting the Government’s agenda for levelling up and net zero."
A W5 spokesperson said: “The absolute highlight of our experience of Operation Earth was our Sea Life in Colour event during the NI Science Festival. Learning from Blair Bailey about the magnificent sea life, right here in our local waters, has given our staff and visitors a greater appreciation of the biodiversity we have here on our doorstep. Sharing this with families, as we all drew these fantastic creatures together with Blair, was one of the best and most memorable ways we could learn about them.”
Hannah Lacey, Senior Public Engagement Programme Manager at the Natural Environment Research Council said “Operation Earth has inspired over 600,000 school aged children and their families to explore NERC’s environmental research. It has been a pleasure to work closely on this project with the Association for Science and Discovery Centres, who have continued to engage children and families throughout the challenges of COVID 19. They have also delivered innovative engagement around COP26; inspiring young people to get involved in environmental science.”
As part of W5’s Operation Earth programme, we developed and designed an activity pack which aims to encourage families to explore Environmental Science and in turn highlight some of the climate issues our world is facing. These activities are hands-on, and completely accessible to families with children aged 6-11 years.
If you and your family would like to get hands on with Environmental Science, try out some of these fun activities.