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By Maxwell Hamilton on

Science Capital in Practice: Training Academy

In June, we kicked off our ‘Science Capital in Practice’ programme with a two-day training academy. Maxwell Hamilton, Science Museum Group Academy Programme Leader, introduces the programme and shares insight from the workshops.

The Science Capital in Practice programme, is a collaboration between the Science Museum Group and the UK Association for Science and Discovery Centres (ASDC) working with 15 science centres and museums from across the UK to help increase diversity and inclusion in science by applying a science capital informed approach.

A group picture of participants who attended the Science Capital in Practice Training Academy.

The primary aim of the programme is to help build a ‘community of good practice’, creating an opportunity for people to share experience, challenges and ideas with each other around how to take a science capital informed approach in their STEM engagement activities – and how to apply the concept more broadly across their organisation.

The initial two-day training academy was led by the Science Museum Group Academy team, and took place at the Science Museum, London. The workshop was opened by Dr Penny Fidler, CEO, ASDC, who welcomed all the organisations involved as well as Professor Louise Archer, University College London, and Dr Heather King, King’s College London.

Participants at tables finding out about their science capital.

On day one, Louise Archer gave an overview of her research around equity and science capital. She also shared a new tool for reflecting on the equitable potential of STEM activities within an organisation. This really got people thinking critically about their own STEM activities and it provided an opportunity to hear more about what the other organisations were working on. The tasks sparked lots of discussion around making activities as accessible and effective as possible, and the people across an organisation who can help make change happen.

In the afternoon, we took the group to look around one of the Science Museum’s galleries using our ‘audit and reflection tool’  to critically review the experience through a ‘science capital lens’. The activity aimed to identify where there were challenges and opportunities to help build visitors science capital in the space. This activity led to the introduction of our science engagement reflection points, which are practical ideas that can help us to reflect on our work, whatever our role, through the eyes of our audiences, to help make them as accessible and effective as we can. The day ended with a wonderful meal with the whole group, a great chance to build relationships and make plans to support each other.

A wall barometer that participants could add post-it notes to to indicate their initial understanding of a science capital approach.Day two was focused on the plans and activities that each centre would be working on.  Each centre shared their own unique circumstances and challenges and started thinking about which tools and approaches could best support them with the development of their programmes and activities.

Another session focused on the evaluation of the programmes and activities and how to measure their success. This generated a lot of discussion and questions, and with each organisation’s programmes and activities being very different, there were lots of different ways this could be done. This area is one of the ongoing elements of the programme that will be supported by the Science Museum Group’s Academy and Audience Research teams.

Getting people to reflect on their engagement experiences and share their learning with each other, was a wonderful opportunity for us all to recognise and hear about all the great work that is already being done. During the whole training academy, there was a great community feel with everyone offering ideas and advice for overcoming challenges and being able to partner up and learn from similar projects.

At the end of the two days, we were really inspired and we’re excited to see how everyone’s programmes grow and develop. Over the next 18 months we will be in regular contact with everyone and will be following, and sharing, their journeys.

One of the overarching messages that came out of the day was the importance of sharing this approach across the organisations, and for it not to just be ‘owned’ by the learning teams. Since the training academy, we have been hearing about how many of the organisations have already started disseminating what they learned during the two day training academy to their colleagues.

In our organisational change blog series, we share the ongoing process of embedding a science capital approach across the Science Museum Group.

Our ‘Science Capital in Practice’ series shares updates on the progress of organisations involved in the programme, a collaboration between the Science Museum Group and the UK Association for Science and Discovery Centres.

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