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Webb Space Telescope and Cosmic Mining Project

Schools are invited to work with astronomers from the UK Astronomy Technology Centre to identify potential targets for the James Webb Space Telescope!

Webb Space Telescope and Cosmic Mining Project

Using observations made by the Spitzer Space Telescope in a previous mission, students will study the amount and different types of chemical elements in cosmic dust including ice, methane and more to identify how various materials were created over the history of the Universe.
Students will analyse spectral data from the Spitzer Space Telescope to find dusty evolved stars and forming-stars in our galaxy and others nearby. Spitzer observed thousands of stars, but only some of them will be the type of star we’re looking for.

The resulting work will not just be of use in identifying potential targets for Webb, it will also form the first fully classified catalogue of these sources, which will be an extremely valuable resource for astronomers.

Participating schools have presented their work at the IRIS regional conferences, the National Astronomy Meeting and the UK Space Conference.


Maximum of 500 participants.


Variable, based upon time available for students and teachers. Students can spend as little as an hour, or as many as they have free to work on analysis.
Teachers might need to spend up to one hour introducing the project, beyond that students are able to self-support using the resources provided. Students are able to work on the project remotely without direct teacher intervention.

Learning outcomes

  • Improve engagement, interest or enjoyment in STEM subjects

  • Improve attainment and progress in STEM subjects

  • Improve awareness and aspirations for STEM-related study and careers

  • Challenge stereotypes by showing the diversity of disciplines, people and skills involved in engineering

Subjects and topics

    • Engineering
    • Maths
    • Physics
    • Electronics/Robotics/Programming
    • Space/Aerospace Engineering

Gatsby benchmarks

The Gatsby benchmarks are a framework for good careers guidance for schools across all of England and in some areas across the rest of the UK. This experience helps your school to reach the following benchmarks:

  • Addressing the needs of each pupil
  • Linking curriculum learning to careers
  • Encounters with further and higher education

Essential skills

The essential skills every young person needs to succeed in education and their future career. Find out more at the Skills Builder Partnership. This experience builds the following skills:

  • Aiming High - the ability to set clear, tangible goals and devise a robust route to achieving them.

  • Listening - the ability to listen and understand information.

  • Problem Solving - the ability to find a solution to a complex situation or challenge.

  • Speaking - the oral transmission of information or ideas.

  • Staying Positive - the ability to use tactics to overcome setbacks and achieve goals.

  • Teamwork - working cooperatively with others towards achieving a shared goal.

What the teachers say

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Big Bang Digital 2020

The Big Bang is back and this time, it’s digital! Give your students an inspirational insight into the world of science, engineering and the amazing work of scientists and engineers in a pandemic.

  • Ages 11 to 19
  • Online
  • Full day
  • Free

EEP Robotics Challenge

Teams build, program and control LEGO® MINDSTORMS® Education EV3 as well as present an engineering-focused research project.

  • Ages 11 to 14
  • Offsite - Multiple locations
  • Multi-session
  • Free

Careers resources