Author: Mhairi Stewart – University of St Andrews, United Kingdom


  • Francesca Fotheringham – University of St Andrews, United Kingdom
  • Barbara Gorgoni – University of Aberdeen, United Kingdom

Could you take science communication into your local prison? What opportunities could it open up, and for whom? What barriers would you face?

We demonstrate learning from Cell Block Science, bringing science communication activities into Scottish prisons. Blocks of eight sessions are delivered by researchers with help in development and delivery from a public engagement professional. The project not only reaches new audiences but also provides opportunities for researchers to improve science communication skills and develop activities that can be used in wider contexts.

In the past year, 106 researchers have delivered sessions to over 463 learners. Over a half of these learners were new visitors to the learning centres, and 95% stated they would continue visiting in order to take part in the project. We also engaged with 170 learners’ family members, delivering at family learning programmes or at visits, resulting in some of these individuals being motivated to attend science festival events. While there are no formal learning outputs to the sessions, several artistic, creative and written outputs have been recognised by external organisations and we are planning to trial linking delivery to an ‘Inquiry Unit’ from the Scottish Qualification Authority, leading to accreditation for participation in Cell Block Science for learners and providing evidence supporting the wider inclusion of science in the curriculum.

Through opportunity and partnership, our project has grown in three years from a small pilot to a nationwide activity involving half of all Scottish prisons, four Universities, professional science communicators, and partner organisations such as museums and zoos. We also have two projects in English prisons taking our format and adapting it to their own local contexts. We invite delegates to hear about our experiences from academic and prison partners, and reflect on how they might transform our experience and learning to their nation and local contexts.

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

Presentation type: Demonstration
Theme: Transformation