Author: Matthew Hickman – Wellcome Trust, United Kingdom

Bronwyn Bevan – University of Washington
Robert Inglis – Jive Media Africa
Craig Tomlinson – BBC Children in Need
Graham Walker – Australian National University

The aim of the session is to share and explore participants’ different ways of including diverse audiences in STEM. We want to collectively develop a shared understanding of the wisdom from and problems with practice, and use research to support the design and implementation of experiences and settings that reach the STEM-excluded.

People who do not typically attend our institutions or events may face many obstacles, both socioeconomic and cultural, that can influence if and how they engage with STEM (including workforce participation, learning, civic discussion). The nature of the obstacles will vary according to country, ethnic heritage, socioeconomic background, and much more besides. Yet these factors operate in most countries to consistently and persistently exclude some audiences from STEM.

Traditionally, those working in science engagement have struggled to reach people excluded from science, and can sometimes exacerbate their exclusion. For example, in high-income countries, the burden of expectation is typically on the audiences to choose to engage with an intervention of some form. It’s now clear that this approach only reaches discrete groups of people – usually, those who are already interested in the topic being explored – and marginalizes those experiencing disadvantage.

In this session, you will be invited to explore the nature of the obstacles your intended audiences face and the outcomes you want to achieve with them. By sharing our experiences we will consider, together, how to make science and science communication more inclusive. It will provide the opportunity for critical reflection and constructive discussion, with a view to:

  1. embedding opportunities to engage with science in existing programs and venues (rather than creating new ones)
  2. designing asset-based programs that are relevant, building on the cultural and intellectual resources of the target audience and
  3. empowering disadvantaged groups to create, drive and deliver their own content and/or programs.

The author has not yet submitted a copy of the full paper.

Presentation type: Roundtable discussion
Theme: Science
Area of interest: Comparing science communication across cultures

Author: Matthew Hickman – Wellcome Trust, United Kingdom

Wellcome is keen that people of all backgrounds should be able to engage with science on their own terms. In recent years, we have focused on working with organisations and individuals who have established relationships with the audiences that we would like to reach; in particular, children and young people affected by socioeconomic disadvantage. This seems to be an effective way of reaching more diverse audiences, as compared with simply asking or funding established science communicators to do ‘more’/extend their reach.

This presentation will share findings from two pieces of research we recently commissioned:

  1. How we need to frame ‘science’ to youth workers across the UK so that they include it in their activities with children and young people, taking into account youth workers’ circumstances and motivations.
  2. The impact on children and young people affected by disadvantage when we train youth workers on how to deliver science engagement activities.

In each instance, the clear message is that ‘context matters’. Youth workers’ activities are driven by the different and complex needs of the children and young people that they work with. While for the young people themselves, the relationship between how the science is presented and their own ‘science background’ is central to understanding their response to the topic.

Much of this work is underpinned by Archer’s work around science capital. In this framing, we are motivated by the opportunity that Wellcome has to influence the ‘field’ that encompasses children and young people affected by disadvantage.’

The author has not yet submitted a copy of the full paper.

Presentation type: Individual paper
Theme: Society
Area of interest: Applying science communication research to practice

Author: Matthew Hickman – Wellcome Trust, United Kingdom

In 2014, Wellcome, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) launched the $12 million / £7.5 million Science Learning+ initiative. Science Learning+ seeks to make a transformational step to improve the knowledge base and practice of informal science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) learning (ISL), to better understand, strengthen, and coordinate STEM engagement and learning. One of the key aims of Science Learning+ is to help facilitate relationships between those who deliver STEM public programs and engagement activities (“practitioners”) and those who undertake research into those activities (“researchers”).

We initially funded 11 small-scale, ‘Planning Grant’ projects with the intent of helping the development of new ideas around improving our understanding of ISL and forging partnerships between researchers and practitioners, and US and UK/Irish organisations.

In 2017 we made larger Partnership Grant awards to five projects. Each project is a collaboration between researchers and practitioners and between organisations based in the US and the UK/Ireland. The projects are investigating a range of ISL experiences and their impacts, including:

  • youth educators in science visitor attractions
  • the role of embodied cognition in developing interactive science exhibits aimed at young children
  • different ways of engaging audiences via citizen science
    leveraging interest in other topics (like the arts) to build interest in science
  • how ISL experiences can help underrepresented youth to navigate STEM pathways.

These are all 3-5 year projects in their early stages and this presentation will be an opportunity to find out more about the projects and the work of Wellcome, NSF and ESRC in supporting understanding about ISL.

The author has not yet submitted a copy of the full paper.

Presentation type: Visual talk
Theme: Science
Area of interest: Building a theoretical basis for science communication