Science in the 21st C - Public dialogue on EPSRC research via talks, small group discussions and family/school festival

Lead Research Organisation: University of Glasgow
Department Name: School of Life Sciences

Abstract

We live in an extraordinary time of rapid technological development yet there are limited opportunities for public engagement with researchers. This project aims to open the doors of research to significant new audiences through dialogue activities and family activities linking STEM and the arts/humanities. We will develop the following through working with EPSRC researchers and through SEAS:1) Dialogue Activities - Public lectures, talks and debates with active researchers. (inc. Meet the Scientist, Question Times, Lab Visits and use of Science Horizons and DEMOCs (Deliberative Meetings of Citizens materials).2) Family - Including shows with practical demonstrations. - We will work with researchers to shape lively and topical content and develop memorable, inspiring demonstrations incorporating cutting edge research. Family activities will include challenge-based events. There are many tested ideas. Examples may include: Design and build a robot, Design, build and fly a remote controlled model plane carrying a digital camera, Design, build and race a car, a Scrapheap Challenge, Fly a model helicopter, Build remote controlled 4 by 4's, Role playing (Flight school training, Build a water pump for a remote African village), etc.3) School Programming. Content similar to family but with curriculum link and strong focus on skills and the of process of science and engineering. There will also be careers talks and a careers conference utilising Science and Engineering Ambassadors (SEAS - volunteer practising Science and Engineers) as role models.The main GUSF 2008 festival will run in June 08, with an estimated 15,800 attendances, 8,000 of which will be those specifically engaged in EPSRC related activities. Prof. Miles Padget will act as adviser on EPSRC research strands both from within Glasgow University and across Scotland. Social, ethical and/or cultural issues surrounding science and engineering will be central to the festival. We will use the experience of the TSA to shape a cost effective festival that facilitates EPRSC dialogue and discussion. The TSA was set up ten years ago to create and deliver memorable learning experiences for children and adults. The group has hosted the local SETPOINT since the start of the SETNET initiative (www.setpointscotland.org.uk). The Science and Engineering Ambassador (SEAS) scheme (www.setpointscotlandseas.org.uk) is central to the teams work. Team projects employ an investigative approach with an emphasis on topical applications, and are built on collaboration with industry. The team wish to now build a collaboration with EPSRC researchers. The team use a large number of approaches and have delivered, promoted and managed a wide range of local and UK National STEM learning experiences. These have included local clubs, teacher CPD, team-building for pupils and teachers, community fairs and events in shopping centres, National competitions and schemes, have included Junior Engineers, YEB, support for YEC, CREST, Make it in Scotland, Tomorrow Inventors, Nuffield, Shell, BP, and INTEL projects. All challenge based activities focus on young people's skill development. Fundamental to our approach is active learning. Science and engineering and education should be experienced as a verb and not as a noun. Activities are delivered in collaboration with careers organisations, teachers, and a large number of practising scientists and engineers. A particular emphasis is put on co-operation between education and industry, and learning that is fun. Cost effective delivery models and mechanisms are vital to success.

Publications

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