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New project will ignite a passion for science in underserved communities

5th June 2019 - A ground-breaking new initiative aims to spark a passion for science in communities across the UK by inviting them to develop tailor-made activities in partnership with their local science centres.

Over the two-and-a-half-year programme, selected science and discovery centres will be partnering with community organisations to work with families from underprivileged areas who might not usually visit a science centre. These participants will work with the science centres to create events and activities specifically for them, for example open days, community festivals, coffee mornings or 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 Centres (ASDC) that first launched in 2012.

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.”

By working with the same families multiple times, science centres aim to build trust and form lasting partnerships with those who may not currently walk through the doors of the centres. Community partners will include young carers, prison inmates and families with English as an additional language.

Eight centres across the UK are participating in this phase of Explore Your Universe; 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.

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 is pioneering and dramatically different as a national programme of STEM engagement. Through this programme these science centres will be able to explore depth rather than breadth of engagement and are being 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.

Last updated: 10 June 2019


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