Young people can bring ideas to life at Isaac Newton’s home with new award

The National Trust has opened applications for a Time + Space Award for young people, inspired by Sir Isaac Newton’s annus mirabilis or ‘year of wonders’, which happened when he was just 23.

The new award will support some of today’s 16-25s to bring their ideas to life at Newton’s home, Woolsthorpe Manor, a farmhouse in Lincolnshire. Newton said of his ‘year of wonders’, “In those days I was in the prime of my age for invention.”

Working with a panel of experts and voices from the fields of science, creativity and culture, the new award is based on the extraordinary story of a young man, whose father died before he was born, who was misunderstood by his family and teachers and raised in turbulent times.

Forced to return from university during a pandemic in 1665, he used the time and space away from his everyday life to explore things he was relentlessly curious about. As a result, he made world-changing discoveries about calculus, optics, motion and gravity.

Isaac Newton
Sir Isaac Newton (1648-1727) after Kneller from the Library at The Vyne. Photographed in March 1992

16-25 year olds living across the UK will be able to apply for a Time + Space Award to be given time, space and resources to explore their own big idea in one of four areas: science, art and culture, society, nature and climate. The award is not limited to students, it’s aimed at finding innovators, entrepreneurs and original thinkers.

The scheme is being launched after research revealed that half of today’s young people say the lockdowns they lived through made them more creative (50%).

Further research revealed that young people overwhelmingly see themselves as creative (92%) but money, time and confidence are some of the biggest barriers to making their ideas happen.

The National Trust is working with experts including Dame Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock, David Olusoga, Tayshan Hayden-Smith and Megan McCubbin who will choose winners of the Time + Space Awards, alongside National Trust representatives and an independent judge.

Applications will be based on answering a big question on one of the four themes and can be made in writing, via video or via audio. It’s hoped the scheme will help unlock the potential of young people from across the country and from a wide range of backgrounds.

Celia Richardson, National Trust director of communications and marketing, said: “National Trust places belong to the nation and often they house extraordinary creative, scientific and geopolitical legacies. We want to use them to inspire the future as well as explore the past.

“This award is about opening up a place that’s fizzing with historic significance and inviting today’s young people to use it to understand, explore, and challenge the way we see the world.”

Space scientist and educator, Dame Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock said: “I know young people with big dreams and world-changing ideas are out there. This award is your amazing chance to bring them to life.”

British-Nigerian historian, broadcaster and film-maker David Olusoga OBE said: “Can your idea shift the way we understand the world? Does it have the power to shape culture and where the world goes next?”

Zoologist, wildlife TV presenter and science communicator Megan McCubbin said:“Young people have the power to tackle the climate and biodiversity emergency. This is a great platform to explore how – bring your boldest, bravest ideas…!”

Newton’s home is in Grantham in Lincolnshire, and the apple tree in the scientific legend still stands in the garden. The house and garden are in the care of the National Trust and are open to visitors (Woolsthorpe Manor will reopen on 10 February 2024). It is here that young Isaac is believed to have undertaken his key light experiment in a bedroom now known as Newton’s chamber.

 To find out more including how to enter and the terms and conditions, click here.

The deadline for entries for a Time + Space Award is 30 April 2024. Anyone submitting a valid application will also be given a free National Trust day pass for two, to enable them to visit any of the places the Trust cares for to have some time and space to wonder. 

Main image by Fabio De Paola

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