You can never have too much space at the National Space Centre, especially when that space is dedicated to supporting and inspiring the next generation of scientists, engineers and potential astronauts.
The POD, or Place of Discovery, houses three brand new, fully equipped classrooms, that will be used to host lessons, workshops and talks.
The facility has been created thanks to funding from the Local Growth Fund from Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership (LLEP), Wolfson Foundation, Foyle Foundation and Kirby Laing Foundation, and will be used by the 80,000 school groups welcomed to the Centre each year, as well as participants in the Community Engagement Programme.
In a year that sees the 30th anniversary of the mission of the first Briton in space, Helen Sharman, the three classrooms have been dedicated to three inspirational astronauts who have supported the National Space Centre during their 20 year mission.
- Tim Peake – the first British ESA astronaut and the second astronaut to bear a flag of the United Kingdom, Tim spent 185 days 22 hours 11 minutes in space in 2015/2016, including living and working on the International Space Station.
- Helen Sharman – the first British astronaut and first Western European woman in space as well as the first woman to visit the Mir space station in May 1991. After responding to a radio advertisement asking for applicants to be the first British space explorer, Helen was selected ahead of nearly 13,000 other applicants.
- Piers Sellers – a British-American meteorologist, NASA astronaut and Director of the Earth Science Division at NASA/GSFC. He was a veteran of three space shuttle missions. Piers was instrumental in organising two NASA post flight space crew visits to the National Space Centre.
The classrooms will also be used outside of school term times to support the Community Engagement Programme, that was launched in 2019 to work with under represented communities from across the city, who have barriers in place to access education.
Charlie Isham, Education Manager at the National Space Centre, said;
“This space is invaluable to our team, as it provides a dedicated space to support learning as part of a visit to the National Space Centre. We know that school groups really enjoy visiting the galleries and planetarium, but these spaces will help us to extend that learning, as well as offering those who need a more focused space to aid understanding a place to work with our team of teachers, scientists and educational specialists.”
The creation of the POD is part of the much larger National Space Centre Vision 2025 extension project that was part-funded with £1,149,712 from the LLEP’s Local Growth Fund.
Kevin Harris is Chair of the LLEP Board of Directors. He said:
“National Space Centre Vision 2025 is one of the most exciting projects that the LLEP is helping to drive forward. With this funding, the National Space Centre will be able to expand its educational offer.
“Young people that learn about space at the new POD may go on to study STEM subjects at college or university, and later make a key contribution to the burgeoning space sector right here in Leicester and Leicestershire.
“This development will help underpin Leicester’s status as an internationally-recognised ‘Space City’, and dovetails with the ongoing development of Space Park Leicester close by at Pioneer Park.”