Enterprising Science to bring the subject to life

King’s College London, in partnership with the Science Museum and BP, has today launched Enterprising Science, the largest UK-wide science learning programme of its kind.

The five-year partnership will bring together the expertise, experience and research of all three organisations to inspire and engage more young people in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) learning and careers to help ensure that the UK remains at the forefront of science, technology and innovation.

Enterprising Science will be underpinned by research led by King’s, part of the ASPIRES study of children’s science and career aspirations. This will support the development of effective, evidence-based tools and techniques that will bring science to life like never before for young people, their teachers and families, both inside and outside the classroom. Young people will be at the heart of the project and up to 2,000 teachers and up to 400,000 students will be involved in piloting these new resources during programme development. The programme will also build on the success of the Science Museum and BP’s previous five-year Talk Science project.

The Government acknowledges the value of science and engineering to the economy and the programme will help address two key challenges - according to Ipsos MORI (’Issues Facing Britain’, April 2013), the health of the economy and unemployment consistently rank as the top two concerns for people in the UK. It is widely recognised that science education is a key to success in school and beyond.

Through this new partnership Enterprising Science will deliver new ways of engaging young people with science, both in the classroom and more informally and strengthen their understanding of STEM career opportunities.

David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science, said: ‘It’s great to see BP, in partnership with the Science Museum and King’s College London, committing 4.3 million for teachers and museum educators to increase science capital amongst young people and their families. Working with more than 2,000 teachers and 400,000 pupils over a 5-year period, this initiative will make a vital contribution to continuing the UK’s standing as a leader in research and innovation in science. This will inspire young people and provide greater employment opportunities for them in the future.’

Education Minister Elizabeth Truss said: ‘Enterprising Science is an innovative programme that will enable more young people to get involved in science, technology, engineering and maths. It will inspire them to become the scientists and innovators of the future.’

Professor Evelyn Welch, Vice Principal (Arts & Sciences) at King’s, said: ‘This is a vital partnership to develop a thorough understanding of how we can enthuse young children about science at an early stage. King’s has been at the forefront of this initiative – researchers in our Department of Education and Professional Studies have been looking at what we can learn from young people’s perceptions of science in relation to their career choices at a critical stage in their development. It’s exciting that this pivotal work at King’s has become the foundation for Enterprising Science, bringing the thrill of scientific discovery to children.’

Enterprising Science is intended to run from 2013 to 2017, with the first new tools and techniques being implemented by teachers and Museum educators across the UK through the ongoing Talk Science programme by the end of the 2014/15 academic year. BP has provided 4.3 million to fund the programme over five years.

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For further please Anna Mitchell, PR Manager (Arts & Sciences), on 0207 848 3092 or anna.i.mitchell [a] kcl.ac (p) uk.

About ASPIRES
The ASPIRES (Science Aspirations and Career Choice) research project is hosted at King’s and led by Louise Archer, Professor of Sociology of Education. The study is tracking children’s science and career aspirations over five years, from age 10 to 14. It seeks to explore the factors which affect aspirations and engagement with science during this critical period. The research combines a large-scale survey with in-depth s to investigate how children form their aspirations and their views of science.

The research follows children in schools across England from Year 6 and to date the team has surveyed over 9,000 primary school children and carried out more than 180 s of parents and children. After the age of 10 or 11 children’s attitudes towards science often start to decline, suggesting that there is a critical period in which schools and parents can do much to educate the next generation of the options available to them.

Participants were surveyed and ed again in Year 8, with over 5,600 students and 85 follow up s carried out. Phase three is currently under way, due to complete summer 2013. Particular attention has been paid to exploring the interplay of gender, social class, ethnicity and the influence of peers, parents and schools, on young people’s aspirations and engagement with science. The project developed, in collaboration with teachers and other experts, strategies for teaching about science-based careers in Key Stage 3.

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