Ecsite 2016: Use space to encourage future careers in STEM

by Tom Anstey | 10 Jun 2016

Leading Danish scientist Tina Ibsen has called for planetariums and science museums to use a re-emerging popularity in space to draw young people into STEM careers.

Speaking at the annual Ecsite conference in Graz, Austria, Ibsen – who is head of Science and Outreach at the Tycho Brahe Planetarium in Copenhagen – said that it was essential that scientific institutions encourage children to head towards a career in STEM as needs for skilled workers in the field increases.

“By 2020, Denmark will need more than 35,000 engineers and people with a master’s degree in science,” said Ibsen. “We’re a small country of five million people so there is this problem of not enough kids going into STEM studies.”

After home-grown astronaut Andreas Mogensen was given a mission to the International Space Station in 2015, education and scientific bodies in Denmark united to create a project called 2015: Space Odyssey, named after Stanley Kubrick's famous movie.

“We don’t have a space agency in Denmark, so we would go out there and use Mogensen and space as a way to engage more kids in STEM careers,” said Ibsen.

“What we did is we came together – 15 partners across Denmark – made up of science centres, museums, universities and even the Danish version of the BBC. We had five main focus areas – events, educational material, competitions, teacher training courses and general outreach. We worked based on that model, one which could be easily adapted and replicated to be used across the country. It’s the largest outreach project ever to happen in Denmark.”

The effort proved a success, with more than 140,000 people in Denmark taking part in a number of events across the country on 2 September. As a result of the programme’s great success, Ibsen said these partners have continued to collaborate on new projects together.

“Space is more popular than ever,” said Ibsen. “Andreas of course has played some part in this, but we’re also talking Gravity, Interstellar, The Martian – space is becoming quite ‘sexy’ again. It’s a great catalyser about what is space, what can be used to explore space and how can stem careers be a part of this.”

Ecsite 2016  Ecsite  Space  Science Centre  Planetarium  visitor attraction  denmark 
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Leading Danish scientist Tina Ibsen has called for planetariums and science museums to use a re-emerging popularity in space to draw young people into STEM careers. Speaking at the annual Ecsite conference in Graz, Austria, Ibsen – who is head of Science and Outreach at the Tycho Brahe Planetarium in Copenhagen – said that it was essential that scientific institutions encourage children to head towards a career in STEM as
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After home-grown astronaut Andreas Mogensen was given a mission to the International Space Station in 2015, education and scientific bodies in Denmark united to create a project called <i>2015: Space Odyssey</i>
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