School outreach project funded by Higher Horizons wins top education award

An out-of-this-world project at a Cheshire high school, funded by Higher Horizons, has won a top award at a regional education awards ceremony.

Throughout the pandemic, Higher Horizons based at Keele University has continued its mission of reaching out to school pupils across Staffordshire, Cheshire and Shropshire, helping to deliver outreach projects and activities designed to engage young people and encourage them to attend university.

One such activity was delivered in partnership with the charity 4wardfutures, which developed a programme of activities for Year 7 and Year 8 students at Ellesmere Port Catholic High School centred around a life for humans on Mars.

As well as encouraging the students to think creatively and engage with the task across a variety of mediums, they were also invited to present their projects to industry experts from fields like space exploration and engineering, discussing their ideas with representatives from the European Space Agency (ESA).

Year 7 pupils were tasked with imagining how a human settlement on Mars might look in their project “Visualising a Life on Mars”, while Year 8’s project titled “Constructing a Life on Mars” looked at the practical aspects of a human settlement.

These activities are just one of 172 outreach programmes that Higher Horizons has led since September 2020 alone, with more than 10,000 young people engaging with the programme.

The project, funded through Higher Horizons, challenged pupils to visualise how humans might begin to construct a life on Mars, through various mediums including art, creative writing, music and even computer animation.

The project was such a success that the school nominated it in the recent Educate Awards 2021, with the project successfully winning the “WOW Factor” award.

Michael Hughes, Assistant Headteacher at EPCHS said: “Higher Horizons’ support of Ellesmere Port Catholic High School is making a world of difference to our students. Through events such as Humanutopia, Stock Market Challenge, and Life on Mars, our students are having the opportunity to take part in events which improve not only their educational chances but their wellbeing and mental health. The impact is clear to see; we have engaged, energised students due to the events that Higher Horizons have supported our school in.”

Phil Atkinson, Chair of Trustees at 4wardfutures said: “4wardFutures is pleased to see EPCHS win the Educate Wow Award 2021 through working with us on our Life on Mars projects, and we are grateful for the strong support of Higher Horizons for our work. EPCHS teachers and students have enthusiastically engaged with our projects with amazing results.”

Alexandra Sparrow, Higher Horizons Outreach Hub Coordinator at Keele added: “It was great to see how active the students were in their live sessions with industry experts; they were asking intelligent questions, and were genuinely interested in learning more about further and higher education, and the space industry.

“The teachers commented that they had not seen this kind of engagement from students at any other point throughout lockdown. We're incredibly proud to have match-funded this innovative programme with 4wardFutures.”