Kielder Observatory Astronomical Society set to be awarded £240k

Kielder Observatory.
Kielder Observatory.

Kielder Observatory Astronomical Society is in line for a funding windfall as part of an initiative to help children access jobs of the future.

Woodhorn Charitable Trust is the other body that will receive a share of £635,000 if the recommendation to the North of Tyne Combined Authority’s cabinet is approved when it meets on June 4.

Kielder Observatory

Kielder Observatory

The report follows a call for project proposals, which were considered by the authority’s investment panel.

The money is intended to encourage more young people to choose a career in STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – and develop digital skills to meet demand in key areas of the labour market.

The Kielder Observatory project would use the £240,000 grant to inspire primary and secondary aged children with science by using the charity’s state-of-the-art astronomy equipment.

The funding would enable up to 10,000 children and young people each year, over a three-year period, to take part in school-based science week experiences – they would be taught by members of the observatory’s inspiring young science team and have the opportunity to experience their portable planetarium.

In addition, each host school would receive an astronomy kit complete with telescope and be given access to a dedicated website so that staff and children can continue their studies remotely.

They would also have opportunities to visit the Kielder Observatory with staff and families, and stay overnight if they need to, thanks to the observatory’s close links with nearby Calvert Kielder.

Peter Standfield, chairman of the Kielder Observatory Astronomical Society, said: “We’re delighted that the combined authority is thinking of investing in our outreach programme that would allow children and young people to experience the wonders of the universe as a means of inspiring closer engagement with the STEM subjects that will help them to access the jobs of the future.”

The meeting will be the first to be chaired by newly elected North of Tyne Mayor Jamie Driscoll.

He said: “Kids have such great natural curiosity – and that’s the foundation of science, technology and engineering.

“I was really pleased when I took office that the interim Mayor and the cabinet had started this programme.

“Naturally, as an engineer, I want to see more of our young people pursue careers in these sectors.”