Space has filled our imaginations for centuries, from Galileo in sixteenth-century Italy to children being entranced by the Clangers, the family of kindly space mice created for TV in the wake of the moon landings in 1969.

In the 50 years since, our understanding of space has changed, whether it’s working our way through Professor Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time or joining Professor Brian Cox as he gazes in wonder at our universe.

The Glasgow Science Centre is another vital institution in our understanding and celebration of space. Since its opening in 2001 it has developed programmes that light the fires (maybe even Bunsen burners) in the imagination of children who may well become our next engineers, scientist and inventors–in space or on this planet.

HeraldScotland: Stephen Breslin, Chief Executive at Glasgow Science CentreStephen Breslin, Chief Executive at Glasgow Science Centre

As part of the UK Association of Science and Discovery Centres, Glasgow has been inviting visitors to discover Destination Space. Part of the science centre network, Glasgow has received a second tranche of funding from the UK Space Agency to deliver this inspiring programme.

“We have been playing a key role in this,” says Stephen Breslin, CEO of Glasgow Science Centre. “ As part of that network, we have been delivering activities, which have the aim of engaging the interest of young people in space and the science behind it.”

Space isn’t always suchahard sell but letting them see it could be part of their future is the ultimate aim of the programme.

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“Through these activities we can talk to them about potential career opportunities, whether that’s working in the satellite industry or even inspiring them to be part of programmes within the European Space Agency and beyond.

“There have been talks from scientists and engineers who are working in companies or within our universities, and they have been highlighting the work that is being done locally.”

There has also been a visit by astronaut Tim Peake, who spent 186 days aboard the International Space Station.

This year the Glasgow science Centre will mark the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing in its own way, again inspiring local young people. “We are putting the plans into place at the moment. What we’re trying to do is almost bring the celebrations home and give them a real Scottish flavour. We will be looking at the development of the Apollo programme and tracing back any of the contributions that came from Scotland.

“We know that Scottish engineers have contributed to so many of the great developments and our ingenuity does seem to find itself in every corner of the world.

“Glasgow will be working with NASA and the UK Space Agency to make the most of an event that changed the course of history and still inspires awe today.”

HeraldScotland: The Planetarium at the Glasgow Science CentreThe Planetarium at the Glasgow Science Centre

As Stephen explains, space has always been a key theme at the Glasgow Science Centre. It’s always a popular draw for children and adults and, as such, is a great tool to expanding the popularity for all ages. “I think there’s always been the understanding the Science Centre is a great place forafamily day out,” he says. “Of course it is but the appeal extends far beyond that. Over the past couple of years we’ve been able to expand our programmes and offering to include adults who are just as fascinated by space and science, but might not be parents or able to tag along with young relatives.”

The David Elder Lectures have attracted a wide variety of speakers to the centre, sharing their experiences and knowledge of space topics and astrophysics. “We have created a series of adults-only events called Science Lates on Friday evenings, which have been extremely popular,” adds Stephen. “In fact the space-themed Science Late that we held last September was our most popular of the year, with more than 1000 adults attending.”

An ingenious use of the Digital Planetarium is pairing the night skies with music in a spectacular audio-visual experience. Where better to listen to the interstellar sounds of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon or The Wall? These events, which couple the stratospheric sonics of Pink Floyd with the 360-degree screen are taking place again throughout April.

These shows, apart from being spectacular and unmissable, not only for Pink Floyd fans, but for anyone who enjoys the performance combination of sound and light, have been another way to encourage a different audience into the Science Centre.

“We do find once someone has been attracted in by an event such as the Pink Floyd shows they’re more likely to come back to the other events, such as talks or even just to enjoy what the centre has to offer.”

HeraldScotland:

Glasgow Science Centre is a space where space is brought down to Earth and made part of all our futures. It is much more than something that touches the soul, it can be part of a great future, as Stephen Breslin explains. “If you can really engage people’s interest with these big ideas, it really does trickle down into more general interests involving science, technology, engineering, and maths – the perfect model of the STEM subjects. Inspiration is our goal. 

For more details of forthcoming events at Glasgow Science Centre, visit www.glasgowsciencecentre.org