MBE for Girl Guide Role Model

Dr Gillian Wright, astronomer at the Royal Observatory Edinburgh, and supporter of the Go For It! with sciZmic Space Events was awarded an MBE for Services to Science in the New Year's Honours. Gillian has taken time out from working on the next space telescope to take part in the events which are held at the ROE Visitor Centre in partnership with Girlguiding UK.

The day-long events, which are designed to encourage more girls and young women to develop an interest in science, give the Guides the opportunity to

The highlight of the day is a talk from Gillian about the challenges of building and operating a space telescope and a visit to the laboratories to peer through the windows of the clean room and look at components that will end up on the next space telescope.

As well as doing astronomy research, Gillian is the European leader of an international group who are designing and building a camera called MIRI (Mid-InfraRed Instrument) for the James Webb Space Telescope which will be the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope.

Dr Louise Webb from sciZmic said "It is great to be able to give the girls a role model like Gillian who is not only a scientist, but who is in a position of authority and is being given public recognition."

Gillian said "Despite recent improvements in the number of young women going into science as a whole, they are still trailing men in physics and chemistry. I hope that this opportunity for girls to experience science outside the classroom will show them what a creative and diverse activity it can be."

The Go For It! project at the Royal Observatory Edinburgh was originally planned as a series of three events. Due to very high demand for places the Visitor Centre has scheduled an extra event on 25 March 2006.

sciZmic Space Events are funded by the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council, (PPARC) the UK funding agency for fundamental physics. PPARC also funds Gillian Wright's research and UK involvement in the James Webb Space Telescope.


Gillian in the lab

Gillian in the lab with components for MIRI.



Making masks

Girl guides making masks to investigate the differences between what they can see with cameras sensitive to visible and infrared light.


Biography of Dr Gillian Wright

Gillian grew up in Hamilton where she was herself, a Girl Guide. She studied Physics at the University of Glasgow and did her PhD at Imperial College, London. After a spell as a research fellow at the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh she moved to Hawaii to work at the UK InfraRed Telescope where she became Head of Instrumentation. In 1997 she returned to the Royal Observatory Edinburgh to be part of the formation of the UK Astronomy Technology Centre.

Go For It! Space Events

Two Go For It! Space Events have already take place at the Royal Observatory Visitor Centre (21 January and 11 February). Future events are planned for 4 March and 25 March.

Royal Observatory Visitor Centre

The Royal Observatory Visitor Centre is open throughout the year for pre-booked group visits and special events. The Visitor Centre can be contacted on 0131 668 8404 or vis@roe.ac.uk. For more details see www.roe.ac.uk/vc.

Girlguiding UK

Girlguiding UK (www.girlguiding.org.uk) is the UK's largest voluntary organisation for girls and young women, with more than 600,000 members. The organisation is part of a worldwide Movement that enables girls and young women, whatever their background or ability, to realise their full potential and take an active and responsible role in today's society. This is achieved through a distinctive, stimulating and enjoyable programme of activities provided by 68,000 trained adult volunteer Leaders.

With more than 50,000 on the joining list to become a Rainbow, Brownie, Guide or Senior Section member, our Vision is to have sufficient adult volunteer leaders to enable every girl and young woman the opportunity to join Girlguiding UK.

Girlguiding UK is committed to developing the skills and self confidence of girls and women. Adult Leaders receive excellent training and gain transferable skills they can use in the workplace due to the wide range of roles and opportunities available in guiding. Girlguiding UK seeks to work in partnership with other individuals and organisations who share our Vision. Registered Charity No: 306016


sciZmic is the section of Ecsite-uk (the UK Network for Science Centres and Museums) that supports events for young people at science centres and museums.

Other sciZmic Space Events are taking place at science centres and museums across the UK. For full details see www.scizmic.net.


The sciZmic Space Events project is funded through a PPARC Science and Society Large Award worth 75,000 GBP. The award covers the production of materials, training of guiders and the actual sessions at the centres.


Royal Observatory Visitor Centre
Jenny Dockett, Education officer
0131 668 8263

Dr Louise Webb,Project Manager
01244 313067

Girlguiding UK
Neill Young
020 7592 1733

Julia Maddock, Press Officer
01793 442094