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RAS200 Chapter 2

BounceBack

It was a pleasure to be at the RAS Annual General Meeting last Friday. Not only did I listen to an entertaining Presidential Address, but I also heard about the new winners of RAS200 awards for innovative outreach projects.

The RAS200 awards fund projects in which the RAS works with partner organizations to use astronomy for outreach in new communities. The scheme links RAS interests with groups with specialist expertise, with the goal of reaching new audiences for astronomy and geophysics. The new projects involve prisoners and ex-offenders, with Bounce Back, girls and young women through Girlguiding, blind and visually impaired people with the Royal National Institute for Blind People, people in remote communities throughout Galway and the wester seaboard of Ireland with Making Space  and in Cornwall through Sea to Stars.   

It was an exciting day because it is such a major commitment of RAS resources – £1 million overall – and because of the progress already made with the first group of projects. These involved The Prince's Trust working with disadvantaged young people, the Workers' Educational Association supporting adults wanting to gain useful skills, Care4 Carers, helping those isolated by overwhelming family responsibilities, the National Space Centre bringing astronomy to music-lovers and the National Autism Society, ensuring that new resources work for people with autism as well as the neurotypical.

By 2020, the RAS Bicentenary, these projects should be in full swing and moving towards their common second goal: to establish a legacy of astronomy, geophysics, planetary and space science among groups who in the past would not have considered them approachable or even possible areas of interest.  Together with the energetic and creative partners we have gained through RAS200, the Society is spreading its outreach much more widely. Many more organizations are and will be aware of the desire of the RAS to share the sciences that we find inspirational; we can hope for further collaborations in future.

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