Prepare for your visit

This page contains all the information you need for organising a successful education trip to the Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre. Please take the time to familiarise yourself with it.

If you have any questions or special requirements, do not hesitate to contact our schools bookings team on 0161 306 9520 or at jodrelleducation@manchester.ac.uk.

What to bring on the day

  1. A copy of your itinerary for each group leader (this will be emailed to you at least 2 weeks before your visit)
  2. Printed worksheets for your group to use around our exhibition areas (please see ‘Worksheets’ below)
  3. We recommend that packed lunches are brought in separate named bags
  4. Make sure your group brings appropriate clothes to explore our outside areas
  5. For young groups arriving on coaches, we also advise you bring at least one set of spare clothes in case someone gets travel sick. Unfortunately, we find this happens quite frequently!

Worksheets

Please note that apart from any workshop sessions you may have booked, your group will be self-guided around the Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre; we cannot offer tour-guides.

To help guide your pupils around our exhibitions, we have created a set of worksheets that you can print out and bring with you on the day. Please head to our worksheets page to download them.

Use of mobile phones

Jodrell Bank is a live radio observatory. Mobile phones interfere with our radio telescopes, which are in use 24 hours a day. We therefore operate a radio-quiet policy and require that all visitors set their phones to flight mode, or switch them off.

  • Mobile phones must not be used on site for calls, texts, internet, Bluetooth, or other wireless communication, for any reason.
  • Mobile phones must not be left switched on, unless they are on flight mode.
  • If your school needs to contact you during the day, they can call our main reception on 01477 571 766. Our staff will then relay the message to you.
  • If you need to make a call during your visit, you are welcome to use one of our landlines; simply ask a member of our staff.
  • You are welcome to use your mobile to take photos; provided it is set to flight mode.

Did you know: The Lovell telescope is so powerful, it could pick up a mobile phone signal on Mars!

Risk assessments

All available risk assessments can be downloaded from our risk assessment page.

Structure of the day

You will receive a detailed itinerary as well as a map of the site at least two weeks before your visit. If for any reason you need a detailed itinerary before that, don’t hesitate to contact us.

During your trip your group will be timetabled for:

  • Any workshops you have booked
  • A lunch slot
  • Any remaining time in our exhibition spaces (self-guided time)

It is important that you are as prompt as possible for your workshop sessions and lunch slot as other groups are also likely to be scheduled in during the day.

We will try our best to work around any unforeseen circumstances during the day. This may include altering your itinerary. Please note that if your group’s arrival is delayed, we may need to shorten your workshop sessions, depending on other factors.

Examples of a typical timetable can be seen below:

Example timetables

Getting to us & access to the site

The entrance to our site lies on Bomish Lane. The postcode to use for sat-navs is SK11 9DW. To plan your route to us please see our getting here page.

Access to the Jodrell Bank site is controlled by a barrier, which opens automatically at 9:55am.

If you arrive before this time, please follow the instructions on the keypad to speak to our reception staff.

Upon arrival

Upon arrival, please head to the reception desk to sign in your group. A member of our team will welcome you, confirm the numbers you have brought, provide you with a map of the site and go through any relevant information.

Adult members of the group will be provided with wristbands. Please keep these on during your visit as they indicate you have paid. Your group can store any bags (e.g. lunches) in one of our storage trolleys.

Please note, we cannot allow your group into the Discovery Centre before 10am. If you arrive early, you are welcome to wait on our picnic benches in front of our entrance building.

Lunch

Your group will be allocated a 30 minute lunch slot in one of our indoor picnic areas. The time and location will be stated in your itinerary.

Please be as prompt as possible as other groups will likely be booked in before or after you.

  • Upon arrival, your group can deposit their lunches in one of our storage trolleys, which are stored near reception.
  • As you make your way to your lunch area, an adult member of your group can collect your trolley from storage.
  • We recommend your group has their lunches in separate named bags.
  • We will provide you with two bin bags for your lunch waste – a clear one for recyclable items and a black one for non-recyclable items.
  • After your lunch, please place your bin bags in your lunch trolley and make sure the area is clean and tidy.
  • We kindly ask that an adult member of your group returns your trolley to the storage area.

If your group would prefer to eat outside, we have plenty of outdoor picnic spaces available around the site which you are welcome to use.

The Planet Pavilion café is open from 10am to 4.30pm, where adult members of your group can purchase hot and cold drinks. Please note there may be a wait, especially during busy times.

Schools visits - Jodrell Bank - Feb 28 2013Photograph©Howard Barlow

Accessibility

The Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre has been designed to be accessible to all. We try our best to meet all requirements, but if you have a query, please contact us.

For those with limited mobility and wheelchair users:

  • All our buildings are fully accessible
  • Accessible toilet facilities available in all buildings
  • Exhibition areas and interactive displays cater for wheelchair users
  • Workshops (including the Inflatable Planetarium) are fully accessible

For those who are deaf and hard of hearing:

  • Induction loops are fitted in exhibition and education spaces
  • All our video exhibits are subtitled

Toilets

Toilets (including accessible facilities) are available in each of our buildings.

Please note the number of toilets in each building is limited; you may find it easier to split your group and visit different buildings.

What's on site

The Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre consists of:

  • Three buildings: the Planet Pavilion, the Space Pavilion, and the Star Pavilion
  • A large outdoor area surrounding the Lovell telescope
  • 35 acres of gardens, including a playground

Click here to explore our interactive map.

At the heart of Jodrell Bank is the giant Lovell telescope, which has been doing world-class radio astronomy since 1957. You can learn more about the Lovell telescope here and you can keep an eye on it here.

In our interactive exhibitions your pupils can find out how the Lovell telescope works and about some of the objects in space it observes. They can also learn about the planets in our Solar System, plus they can put their space questions to our expert staff!

Please note:

  • We are open to the public from 10am to 5pm daily, so your group will likely be sharing our exhibition spaces with members of the public.
  • The Lovell telescope is sometimes undergoing maintenance from our engineers during the day; during these times it will not be observing or moving.
  • Visitors are not allowed into the observatory building or up the Lovell telescope. The observatory is a working environment and the Lovell telescope is in use 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

The Planet Pavilion (building 1)

This is the first building you will enter upon arrival. It contains reception, the café, the gift shop and an exhibition space.

During your visit, your group will typically be timetabled half an hour to explore the exhibition space here. This exhibition includes the Jodrell Bank Orrery; a giant clockwork model of the moving Solar System.

Although the sizes of the planets and Sun are not to scale, nor are the distances between them, orreries correctly show the relative time planets take to orbit the Sun. When moving, one Earth year in real life equals one minute for the orrery.

Please note your time here will be self-guided, however an Explainer will usually be present to answer any of your group’s questions. Your group can also use the Planet Pavilion section of their worksheets to help them.

During your time in the Planet Pavilion, small groups of pupils can visit the gift shop, if required. Pupils must be separated into small groups due to the limited space available in the gift shop (see ‘Gift Shop’ below).

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The Space Pavilion (building 2)

This building contains our main interactive exhibition, along with two teaching spaces; the Classroom and Events Space.

During your visit, your group will typically be timetabled half an hour to explore the exhibits here. Please note your time here will be self-guided, however an Explainer will be present to answer any of your group’s questions. You can also use the Space Pavilion section of the worksheets to help you.

The Space Pavilion exhibition includes:

  • A live data feed from the Lovell telescope (please note: this is in the form of a data plot and not an image of what the telescope is ‘seeing’)
  • A hands-on model of the Lovell telescope
  • Interactive interviews with some of the scientists and engineers who work at Jodrell Bank
  • An infrared thermal camera
  • The gravity well; a hands-on model of a black hole
  • The ‘Big Bang cone’ playing the ‘sound’ of the first 100 million years from real data
  • A usable, see-through Newtonian telescope
  • Information about the biggest telescopes around the world and some of the astonishing images they have created
  • Much more!

Schools visits - Jodrell Bank - Feb 28 2013Photograph©Howard Barlow

The Star Pavilion (building 3)

The Star Pavilion contains two teaching spaces (‘Star 1’ and ‘Star 2’) and two indoor lunch spaces (‘Star 3’ and ‘Star 4’). There is no exhibition area in this building.

Outside exhibits

The Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre has a number of outdoor exhibits and activities. Your group will typically be timetabled half an hour to explore these. Please note this will be self-guided time.

Since this is outside, please bring appropriate clothes in case the weather is inclement. If the weather is severe and you wish to do a different activity, please speak to a member of staff on the day.

Our outdoor exhibits include:

  • The Telescope Pathway: Follow the path around the base of the Lovell telescope. Information boards along the way tell the story of the construction of the Lovell telescope and provide information about some of the objects it observes. If you wish to follow this activity, the Telescope Path section in the worksheets contains a puzzle for pupils to complete.
  • The Planet Pathway: A scale model of the Solar System hidden throughout the grounds of Jodrell Bank! The planets are represented by circular metal discs set into the ground. If you wish to follow this activity, you can use the Planet Path section in the worksheets to help you.
  • Outdoor interactive exhibits: Find out more about Jupiter’s rotation and storms, plus experiment with gravity just like Galileo! (NB: the ‘vortex’ exhibit is only available in the warm summer months).
  • The Whispering Dishes: These demonstrate, using sound, how the curved shape of the Lovell telescope amplifies faint signals (please note the Lovell telescope is not actually detecting sound, but radio waves – a form of electromagnetic radiation, similar to light).

Schools visits - Jodrell Bank - Feb 28 2013Photograph©Howard Barlow

Gardens and playground

Jodrell Bank contains 35 acres of gardens, which include two national collections. The gardens also include The Galaxy Garden and an outdoor Play Area.

School groups are not usually allocated time in the gardens as part of the day’s activities, however if you wish to spend some time here, please contact us to let us know.

Please note that the gardens close early during the winter months and that if the weather is severe (e.g. strong winds) the gardens will be closed all day.

Schools visits - Jodrell Bank - Feb 28 2013Photograph©Howard Barlow

Gift Shop

Situated next to reception (in the Planet Pavilion building) is our gift shop. Small groups can visit the gift shop during your time in the Planet Pavilion.

We also offer pre-packaged goody bags which can be pre-ordered for your group to save time. If you would like to add these to your package, please let us know on your confirmation form.

  • Option 1 – £2.50 – Pen & Notebook
  • Option 2 – £3.00 – Pencil, Eraser & Notebook
  • Option 3 – £4.00 – Notebook, Pen & Mini Telescope
  • Option 4 – £5.00 – Notebook, Pencil, Expand-a-ball

Workshops

This information is relevant if you have booked any of our interactive workshops as part of your visit. If you are coming on an exhibitions-only visit, your group will not experience any workshops.

Our education workshops last 50 minutes.

  • All Inflatable Planetarium sessions occur in the Events Space in the Space Pavilion building.
  • Other workshops will either be held in the Star Pavilion or in the Classroom/Events Space in the Space Pavilion.
  • Please check your itinerary for the times and locations of your workshops.

Please arrive promptly for any booked workshop sessions, as other groups will likely be booked in before or after your group.

You are more than welcome to take photos during workshops, however video recording is not permitted.

Schools visits - Jodrell Bank - Feb 28 2013Photograph©Howard Barlow

First Aid

If any of your group should require first aid, please contact a member of Jodrell Bank staff. There are always first aiders on site during opening hours and our staff will provide assistance. Our site is also equipped with two automatic defibrillators.

Please do not use your mobile phones to contact your school. Mobile phones cannot be used on site for any reason. If you need to use a phone, please see a member of our staff, who will show you to one of our landlines.

Your role on the day

Children must be accompanied by responsible adults for the duration of your visit. Please note that schools/colleges/parents/other institutions remain responsible for your group whilst at Jodrell Bank.

Please ensure any accompanying adults have the necessary experience and authority to supervise a group of children on a trip.

Please ensure the ratio of accompanying adults to children is appropriate for your group, and in line with any relevant institution policies.

If the person who booked the trip is not attending on the day, the organiser must ensure all relevant paperwork relating to the trip is passed to the relevant staff.

Pre-visit planning trips

If you wish to familiarise yourself with the Discovery Centre before your trip and/or complete a risk assessment, you are welcome to come for a free planning visit. Simply bring proof of your visit (e.g. staff card, school letterhead, or a copy of your booking confirmation) with you and show it at reception upon arrival.

Final checklist!

We have put together a handy checklist, to make sure you’ve got everything prepared for your visit. We recommend completing the checklist a few days before your trip.

You’ll be emailed this checklist as part of your itinerary document (sent two weeks before your visit), but you can also download it below.

Education visit checklist

Terms and conditions

All visiting education groups must agree to our terms and conditions, which can be viewed on our terms and conditions page.