Space Academy: A Journey from Hospital to Mars
conference contributionposted on 13.07.2020, 15:40 by Rachael Dixon
Being in hospital can be a very frightening and lonely experience, especially as a child and especially when in an isolation unit. A patient may be in isolation either because they areinfectious to other patients or because they are immunosuppressed, and it is dangerous for them to be around other patients and illnesses. Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity (ECHC) is developing a Space Academy programme which aims to take the isolation experienced by these childrenand mirror it with the experience of an astronaut in space, thereby using the idea of space exploration to inspire children who are at their most vulnerable, and hopefully lessen the negative impact hospital experiences may have on a child. ECHC's Space Academy is a 3-week programme which sees each child through the stages of their mission to Mars, right through from pre-launch to debrief. A video-guided app is being developed to take them through their journey, with Tim Peake having agreed to record the introductory video. Each day offers different activities which follow this narrative, and which have been developed to abide by infectioncontrol restrictions within the hospital environment. Many of these activities are designed to parallel the work of scientists and astronauts, having used ESA resources aimed at school teachers as a guideline. The programme will therefore provide the children and young people with a way to engage with science whilst in hospital, at a time when they may be missing out on mainstream education. The programme is due to be trialled in the oncologyward of the Edinburgh Royal Hospital for Sick Childrenin 2020, since many cancer treatments result in a lowered immune system which requires the patients to be in isolation. This paper outlines the need for such a programme, the details of the planned pilot initiative and discusses the potential future development andreach of the project.