This year’s British Science Week was a huge success, with over 5000 events and activities taking place nationwide, engaging over 1.6 million participants. Everyone from children to research scientists got involved in everything from policy debates to science fairs and witnessing the solar eclipse.
- Over 19,000 students (age 5 – 14) from 245 schools participated in the School Poster Competitio
- Over 200 teachers and technicians pledged to run a demonstration on Demo Day (and the support pack was downloaded 800 times)
- A partnership with BBC Stargazing Live saw experiments in schools with the broadcaster; and our specially created resource (edible eclipses) was downloaded over 2,000 times.
- Over 12,000 people took part in citizen science projects
- Our new community grant scheme was over-subscribed with 135 applications for 50 grants for organisations and groups working with under-served audiences
- There were 50% more non-school events (than in BSW 2014)
One of our objectives for British Science Week this year was to not only celebrate the thousands of activities, demos and events that take place in schools, but also to increase the volume of events in local communities. We were delighted by the number of community organisations who ran events during the week, many supported by our new BSW Community Grants.
Another target was to encourage organisations that might not traditionally be associated with science to take part and we were particularly pleased to see the response from the museums and heritage sector: some of the UK’s largest cultural institutions came on board – with an event at the Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A), an event and daily tweets from curators at the British Museum, and a packed programme of events for school groups at the National Football Museum in Manchester, just to name a few!
Our branches also ran some fantastic events. The Bristol and Bath Branch kicked off the week with an exhibition of Sci-Art, which showcased a range of works produced by local artists and scientists. The Nottinghamshire Branch ran their annual festival, Science in the Park, involving many different local organisations who put on a range of exciting activities. Meanwhile, in Aberdeen, the branch organised a programme packed with talks, demonstrations and workshops, which took place throughout the week, at a number of venues across the city.
With your help, we smashed our Worm Watch Lab project target! We asked thousands of people to help us track the egg-laying behaviour of nematode worms by watching short video clips, and broke the target of 100,000 objectives by day two!
There were plenty of firsts…
We trialled a new type of event format, specifically aimed at venturing beyond the traditional approach of citizen science. ProblemAttic is part discussion event, part citizen science, part crowdsourcing; we invited scientists to share genuine challenges they faced in their research with a general audience, who then discussed and tried to come up with solutions. One of our ProblemAttic ‘lab rats’, Anouk Gouvras, a post-doctoral research scientist at the Natural History Museum, blogged about her experience.
We also piloted Behind the Scenes of British Science; a new national initiative to show the fun and fascination of Science happening in local communities. Participating organisations included EDF Energy, Network Rail and Intertek, and Thames Tideway Tunnel. The pilot was a real success for both the participating companies and the attendees and we have big plans to make it even better in 2016!
And the inaugural Discovery Friday – a showcase of schools and STEM clubs from across the country that have undertaken CREST Discovery Awards or similar – took place at The Big Bang Fair.
Demonstrations and debates:
We partnered with Kids Company and the Science Museum for a special pyrotechnics show in the IMAX theatre. Matthew Tosh captivated the children’s attention from start to finish with an array of bangs, flashes and pops all interspersed with digestible nuggets of fascinating science. Kids Company team leader, Lycia Parker, wrote a blog about the children’s experiences.
Meanwhile, our annual Demo Day was a great success with over 200 schools pledging to take part. We aimed to inspire secondary school teachers and technicians to explore new concepts, provoke discussion and generate excitement through running science demonstrations.
We supported a series of policy debates all over the country, including hosting two ourselves during British Science Week. Our audiences brought some great questions and perspective, and the debates were lively and interesting.
Tea and biscuits
Our #PerfectCuppa campaign got the nation talking about the science of making the perfect brew. We felt that the humble cuppa would be a good example of the scientific method in everyday life, and we encouraged people in offices, staff rooms, community centres and their own homes to take part in an everyday ‘experiment’: investigating their perfect cup of tea, through looking at the different variables that go into their preferred tea-making method.
To celebrate the eclipse we developed an ‘edible eclipse’ activity sheet, showing how to use different food (from biscuits to fruit) to understand what was going on during the eclipse.
A huge success!
Overall, it was a fantastic 10-day celebration of science, with researchers, families and students all getting involved. Thank you to everyone who took part.