Project collaboration login

Back to all projects

Enhancing STEM Academics' Public Engagement Skills

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

Project Report

This project set out to enable Masters, PhD students and STEM academics in the South West to become more effective STEM Ambassadors, developing their transferable public engagement skills through activities and events that enhanced the University of Bristol's high profile work on volcanoes and earthquakes.

The project built on the recognition that many scientists do not have the skills to interact effectively with primary school students (Key Stage 1 - 3 pupils). As such, two training seminars were devised to provide continuous professional development opportunities for staff and postgraduates across STEM-related departments in primary school public engagement. These seminars were supported by the development of a Guide to Delivering Effective STEM Public Engagement

Knowledge and good practice arising from the seminars was used to create a range of volcano and earthquake outreach activities for schools, activities that were designed and delivered by postgraduate students. The project has been hugely successful – it received additional funding from the National HE STEM Programme as part of the Practice Transfer Adopters' scheme, which saw the transfer of the project activity to 7 other universities) – and it will continue beyond the initial funding period.

The final report for the project can be downloaded below, followed by a report from the Practice Transfer Adopters' process:

Enhancing Public Engagement Skills - Final Report

Practice Transfer Adopter report

Project Highlights

1. Devising professional development training in public engagement for primary schools. The training has been developed into 3 distinct, deliverable seminars and has been used to up-skill 53 staff and postgraduates across STEM-related departments at the University of Bristol.

2. Creating new school outreach workshops on volcanoes and earthquakes which now mean that the Department of Earth Sciences at Bristol has a wider public engagement reach.

3. Collaboration between Nicholas Garrick, Director of Lighting Up Learning and Ed Drewitt, Learning Officer in Earth Sciences.

A crucial reason for the project's success has been the combination of Nicholas and Ed, in terms of their complementary professional experiences. An academic learning officer, Ed is based at Bristol and has extensive school experience. Not only this but he has contact with, works alongside and supports, students and staff at all levels, as well as running a successful school offer project: The Bristol Dinosaur Project. Nicholas, as both a primary school teacher of 12 years and as a Learning Consultant, leads curriculum innovation and development in the UK and abroad. He has drawn upon his knowledge of the classroom alongside the wide range of activities he has undertaken as a consultant.

Staff involved

Ed Drewitt
Project lead, University of Bristol

Claire Dimond
Graphic Science

Nicholas Garrick
Lighting Up Learning Ltd