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Enhancing STEM Academics' Public Engagement Skills

Lead Institution: University of Bristol
Collaborating with: Graphic Science, Lighting Up Learning Ltd

Project Summary

CPD for Academics in Primary School Public Engagement

Public Engagement in Action

Public Engagement in Action

This project enabled Masters, PhD students and STEM academics to become more effective STEM Ambassadors, developing their public engagement skills through a variety of STEM activities and events. The project originated at the University of Bristol but, given its success, received additional funding through the Practice Transfer Adopters' scheme to extend its remit to seven other universities - Birmingham, Bradford, Loughborough, Middlesex, Newcastle, Northampton and Wolverhampton. 

The project built on recognition that many scientists do not have the skills to interact effectively with school students (especially Key Stage 1 - 3 pupils). This isn't a problem specific to the UK, as the below article indicates:

Avoiding a Setback to STEM

Lighting Up Learning Ltd supported the project through the design and delivery of training aimed at upskilling academics' public engagement skills. A Guide to Effective STEM Public Engagement was produced and a range of presentations and teacher resources for primary school outreach activities were developed.

Aims & Objectives

The aim of the project was to:

Empower Masters, PhD students and STEM academics to be more involved with public engagement activities and to create and share a range of materials for workshops in primary schools.

The project:

  1. Increased the confidence and abilities of STEM academics to design and deliver primary school activities that are accessible, engaging and interactive
  2. Increased interest, understanding and awareness of the relevance and importance of STEM disciplines amongst children and their teachers
  3. Developed and refined a range of resources for use in primary schools
  4. Supported the upskilling of academics in schools outreach, and the development of new outreach materials, at seven universities across the country

Staff involved

Ed Drewitt
Project lead, University of Bristol

Claire Dimond
Graphic Science

Nicholas Garrick
Lighting Up Learning Ltd