A ground-breaking new initiative is going to see some of the UK’s most passionate scientists working alongside some of the nation’s hardest-to-reach communities, in the hopes of sparking a passion for the subject.
Selected science centre’s across the UK will be looking at the hardest-to-reach parts of the community, such as children in deprived areas, families with English as an additional language, people with additional needs or learning difficulties, young carers, and prison inmates. These participants will be invited to work with the science centre’s to create tailor-made events and activities specifically for them, including open days, community festivals, coffee mornings and school talks.
This outreach programme is the latest phase of the Explore Your Universe (EYU) project, a partnership between the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and the Association for Science and Discovery Centre’s (ASDC) that first launched in 2012.
This latest phase, which will run until 2021, involves eight centres – Aberdeen Science Centre, Cambridge Science Centre, Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh, Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre in Manchester, Science Oxford, Techniquest in Cardiff, Techniquest Glyndwr in Wrexham and W5 in Belfast.
STFC’s Head of Skills and Engagement, Derek Gillespie, said: “Although we have had brilliant results with the Explore Your Universe programme in science centres so far, with four out of every five participants saying they were more interested in science after attending an Explore Your Universe event, we asked ourselves if we were doing enough.
“The children and families who attend the science centres come away engaged and enthused – but what about those who are unable to visit the centres, or who are still not engaging in science? There are still children living in some communities who do not have access to relatable, accessible science programmes and we wanted to change that.”
Shaaron Leverment, Deputy CEO, ASDC, said: “This support from STFC is allowing Explore Your Universe 4 to build on all that we know – the evidence from the science capital team, the learning from the Our Museum programme and others, alongside the expertise of our community partners – to create something for our sector that really is pioneering and dramatically different as a national programme of STEM engagement. Through this programme, science centres are enabled to explore depth rather than breadth of engagement and actively encouraged to build equitable and lasting partnerships that truly support participation with science, and with our science centres, for all families!”
Piotr Bienkowski, Director, Our Museum: Communities and Museums as Active Partners, said: “Science and discovery centres in the UK are doing some excellent community engagement. Explore Your Universe 4 is an opportunity to build on that to create a truly participatory process that will have a longer term impact on both organisations and communities. It has the potential to kick-start a radical shift in ways of working, and change the public perception of the role of science centres in society. It is both exciting and a privilege to be part of it.”
EYU runs across 29 science centres, facilities and universities in the UK and allows families to experience STFC science in accessible ways. Find out more about Explore Your Universe, and the new phase, here.