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A Limit Less story: Discovery Planet

This grassroots organisation is supporting young people to change the world and Limit Less as part of its efforts to bring enriching education into disadvantaged communities.

Discovery Planet (DP) is a small grassroots organisation, based in Ramsgate on the East Kent coast. It was set up in 2013 with the aim of bringing enriching educational experiences to the heart of disadvantaged communities by weaving them into people’s everyday lives.

Thanet ranks as the most deprived local authority in Kent and has some 18 areas that are listed as among the 10% most deprived in the country. Thanks to a Science and Technology Facilities Council Nucleus award, DP now has a space on Ramsgate High Street to deliver a series of workshops to the local community over two years. Workshops are run by researchers and students from the University of Kent as well as volunteers from local schools and community groups.

A young person in a workshop at Discovery Planet

Photo credit: Pete Bateson

In year one, these topics were delivered:

  • Renewable energy;
  • Telescopes;
  • Light;
  • Meteorites;
  • Materials; and
  • Heritage science.

In year two the session topics have been chosen by local schoolteachers and other community stakeholders. They have been distributing resources, such as the Limit Less careers booklets, and spreading Limit Less messaging to families, teachers and young people.

The workshops are run for local schools on Thursdays and Fridays and on Saturdays are open to the public. In order to remove any barriers to participation all events are free to all and they deliberately choose not to advertise more widely to support the local population as much as possible.

A young child enjoying a physics experiment at Discovery Planet

Photo credit: Pete Bateson

In the last nine months of 2022, 2,652 people took part in interactive hands-on workshop activities. This figure includes 1,399 primary school students aged 7- 11; 47 secondary school students aged 11-18; 575 adult members of the local community and 619 children and young people attending outside school hours with their parents or carers. They have a particular focus of children with special educational needs (SEN) and have adapted their provision and activities to encourage participation, for example by running a “calm” workshop on Saturdays.

Schools for children and young people with SEN have seen the activities as an extremely useful resource. Teachers report that the activities enable students who usually struggle with classroom learning to become engaged, sustain their focus, and retain information. Reluctant learners look forward to their visits. This is a group being targeted by the Limit Less campaign.

One PhD student volunteer took the session they developed for a DP workshop to Glastonbury Festival and also delivered it in the Green Man Festival’s curious and wacky science engagement area, Einstein’s Garden. Several other volunteers are keen to continue to participate and have recommended the shop to others wanting to disseminate their research.

The five key Limit Less messages we want everyone to be sharing are:

  1. Doing physics empowers young people to change the world
  2. Physics is for people of all identities and backgrounds
  3. Physics depends on teamwork and diverse viewpoints
  4. Being a physicist isn’t the only career available to physics students
  5. Physics opens the door to many stable career options, including well-paid jobs that do not require a degree
Young students at a table playing a game

Photo credit: Pete Bateson