The Airbus Foundation Discovery Space is an interactive science and engineering education centre in Stevenage, run by North Herts College and jointly funded by the Airbus Foundation and Hertfordshire LEP. The centre, which opened in May 2017, leverages the inspirational power of the ExoMars Rover and its state-of-the-art testing yard that simulates the surface of Mars, alongside exhibits, classroom and workshop spaces.
Hertfordshire LEP invested in the project as part of its commitment to coordinate and promote STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths) and create stronger links between employers and schools to help young people into training and employment.
The centre is designed to inspire young people to pursue STEM-related careers.
In its first year of operation, it welcomed almost 10,000 visitors, including over 1000 children during British Science Week 2018, and supported 69 work placements. The centre also played host to a range of educational and corporate events including 24 science shows, the Tomorrow’s Engineers Robotics Challenge 2018 and a Setpoint networking event. The centre also hosts eight Supported Studies learners per week to run the shop, giving young people with disabilities or learning difficulties the opportunity to gain valuable work experience.
It is anticipated that 27,000 Key Stage 2 students will visit the centre by 2022; 3 new jobs will be created; there will be a 5% increase in apprenticeship provision at North Herts College; and 90% of schools will see an increase in STEM engagement.
The project cost a total of £2.5m, with Hertfordshire LEP investing £1.039m from the Local Growth Fund and the Airbus Foundation funding the rest.