Development & Alumni Relations Office 


23 January 2018

Among the winners of awards, medals and prizes announced earlier this month by the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS), is London-based Queen’s graduate, Jenny Lister, BA Early Childhood Studies 2006, who is a former student of Stranmillis University College.

Now a teacher in St George the Martyr CE Primary School in Camden, London Jenny comes originally from Donaghadee, County Down. She was awarded the prestigious RAS Patrick Moore Medal for her education work with young people, particularly for promoting STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects.

The Patrick Moore Medal is presented for a "particularly noteworthy contribution to astronomy or geophysics by school teachers".

Her citation read: ‘Miss Lister does phenomenal work inspiring her students with a love of Space. She participated in the Tim Peake Primary Project and took it to a whole new level with science weeks and stargazing events.’

Speaking to Queen’s, Jenny said: “It is so important to me to raise the profile of STEM subjects in Primary Education, as I believe the future of our generation will rely on highly skilled and creative people working in these fields.

“The children in my school enjoy STEM subjects and show great enthusiasm for them all, especially science. Space is of particular interest because of everything I've introduced in school.

“I never believed when I graduated from Stranmillis in 2006 that I would be receiving such a special award! I am delighted to have studied at a University College of Queen's because of the high-quality training I received and the fact that it is in the best city in the world!”

And in an interview with the BBC, Jenny added: "The whole school has just really got into space. They love science but they really love space, right from the nursery kids up to the 11-year-olds.

"Lots of the children now want to be astronauts or help build the equipment needed to put people into space."

Among the activities she organised were a Space Week at her school, special school assemblies about space and – most popular of all – a stargazing slumber party for over a hundred interplanetary enthusiasts.  

"After school, after dark, all the kids and their friends and families came back to school in their pyjamas.

"Then we all had hot chocolate, went outside and used binoculars to look at stars. It was lovely how even the three-year-olds could see them and get so enthusiastic about it."

Jenny also read aloud extracts from How to Catch a Star by the Belfast-author Oliver Jeffers and helped students to create aliens from the book.

Jenny’s remarkable work with ESERO-UK (the European Space Education Resource Office) also known as the UK space education office, instilled a love of STEM subjects and ‘all things space’ in her students, inspiring the young people in her charge in the process.

The citation continued: ‘Due to her unwavering enthusiasm for science, Miss Lister led the school staff, developed their science teaching skills and gathered so much evidence that the school achieved the Gold level ‘Primary Science Quality Mark’. Her head teacher says of her ‘she continues to strive so that all the children have a questioning mind and a love of science.’

‘Miss Lister shows how Space can engage a whole school and give students, staff and parents wonderfully exciting experiences understanding our Universe. With this inspiration and commitment to space at her Primary School Miss Lister inspires the space scientists and astronomers of the future.’

Jenny told Amy Stewart of BBC News NI that she had been talking to her young pupils about how one day they end up living in space.

"I'm trying to promote that with the children; science is for them," she said.

"It's not just a man in a lab with mad hair and a white coat. There is a lower percentage of females getting into sciences so I really try to enforce that science and space are for everyone,” she added."

Jenny will be presented with her medal at a ceremony during the European Week of Astronomy and Space Science in Liverpool to be held in early April.

General inquiries to Gerry Power, Communications Officer, Development and Alumni Relations Office; tel: +44 (0)28 9097 5321.


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