Spaceman, I always wanted you to go into space, man

By Holly Rees, Account Director

It is not every day that you get to meet someone who has left the planet! But that’s what happened this week when Whiteoaks facilitated a press conference with The Foundry and former commander of the International Space Station (ISS) and the first Canadian to walk in space, Chris Hadfield to talk about his brand-new comedy science animation series, It’s Not Rocket Science.

Created by Chris, together with his son Evan, the series is aimed at making learning about science fun and accessible to viewers of all ages.  An animated Commander Hadfield and his space pug Albert will use humorous narrative and anecdotes to talk about science. The series was animated by Dan Turner and Tracy King, the team behind the viral sensation Tim Minchin’s Storm, using a number of solutions from The Foundry.

Space exploration is a hot topic right now, especially in light of Tim Peake’s mission to the ISS in December 2015 making global headlines.  He is the first British ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut to visit the space station, a place he will call home for six months as he carries out scientific experiments. Peake is also the first Briton to walk in space, and he celebrated by tweeting a historic selfie.

Scientists have also found evidence that a ninth large planet may be lurking deep in the outer solar system. The planet, which could be larger than the Earth is far from the sun and thought to be gaseous like Uranus and Neptune, though smaller than both ice giants.

While there are many positive stories coming from the world of space and science, a gloomier picture here on Earth is being painted by Adecco’s CEO Alain Dehaze at the World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting 2016 in Davos, Switzerland. Dehaze has warned that Europe is going to face an unprecedented shortage of digitally skilled workers by 2020 and 900,000 jobs in the EU might end up vacant.

In December, Philip Avery, director of learning and strategy and teacher at Bohunt Education Trust told The Telegraph that in three years, over half of British businesses expect a shortfall in the number of STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) skilled staff. However, Avery waned that getting more graduates in these areas alone won’t solve the problem – we need new graduates with the qualities, skills, creativity and ambition to stand out.

New research published by Engineering UK claims that a failure to meet engineering skills demand to cost UK £27bn a year — the equivalent of building 1,800 schools or 110 hospitals.

High profile figures such as Tim Peake and Chris Hadfield provide a golden opportunity for the UK and other countries to address the skills shortage and tackle it head on. Millions of Britons tuned in to watch Peake’s launch live, proving that the UK is still captivated by science.

Hadfield’s, 10-part series ‘It’s Not Rocket Science’ series will be available on YouTube meaning viewers of all ages can enjoy the show, and for free. Hadfield became an internet sensation when be recorded his own unique version of David Bowie’s hit, Space Oddity from the ISS. Hadfield attracted an online following by tweeting the likes of Queen Elizabeth and William Shatner, as well as posting videos and photos about daily life on the satellite.

With the digitally savvy younger generation having access to such inspirational people via social media, it opens up a new world and highlights science and engineering by bringing them to the masses.

And as Hadfield said at The Foundry session when asked ‘What is it like in space?’

“It’s magic. You can fly!” What more inspiration do people need?