Hundreds of students are continuing to be inspired to go out of this world, following a successful crowdfunding project.
The Soton Astrodome is now able to continue visiting schools thanks to the funding after its future as a mobile resource had looked in doubt. It becomes the latest project to have been successfully crowdfunded by the University with six projects hitting their targets last year alone.
Established in 2011, the Soton Astrodome is a mobile planetarium that visits students around Southampton inspiring them to study physics and astronomy. Up to 200 children a day can enjoy the show, which takes them on a tour of the night sky while identifying major constellations.
However, the team required further funding to be able to continue their visits of up to 40 schools a year, so approached the University to assist them in the process.
The platform works by ‘creators’ presenting their cause and ‘sponsors’ then donating as much or as little as they like, receiving small rewards for their pledges. Only if the minimum target is reached by the deadline will the money change hands. The Soton Astrodome asked for £6,000 to guarantee another 24 free school visits, a target they reached thanks to a flood of donations, including many from alumni and supporters.
Dr Sadie Jones, the University’s Outreach Leader in Astronomy, says:
I chose to crowdfund because of limited funding to deliver what has become a very successful programme. Working with the Office of Development and Alumni Relations, we were able to tell our story and get people excited about supporting us.
Thanks to generous donations, the Soton Astrodome was successfully funded with a final total of £6,315. The project has also benefited from the support of alumnus and long-term donor Matthew Hodgson. As a member of the Hartley Circle, a group of individuals who give £1,000 or more to the University every year, he used his annual gift to match-fund the donations, contributing an additional £1 for every £1 pledged.
Matthew (MPhys Physics and Astronomy, 2001) described how he was inspired to help support the outreach work.
He explains: “I believe outreach in science is of critical importance, and having experienced an Astrodome presentation first-hand, I am confident that the mobile planetarium is an exceptional way to achieve this goal.”
Thanks to this new financial support, the show will go on – something Sadie thought might not be possible this year. The process has also led her to reviewing the programme, now targeting particular schools.
She says: “Because we needed to convince people to fund us, it made me think more strategically about which schools we should go to, so we will now focus on disadvantaged schools and widening participation.”