Through our value of being Open for All, we are committed to playing our part in enabling more people to engage with and participate in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) and to bring greater diversity to the type of people who participate in and contribute to science and innovation.
STEM engagement is at the heart of what we do at the Science Museum Group, and we are using the concept of science capital to provide us with a research-based insight into what influences and shapes people’s engagement with and attitudes towards science, and to understand what we can do to help our visitors to feel more at home in science related places like ours.
The Science Museum Group worked in partnership with King’s College London and University College London on on a five-year research and development project called the Enterprising Science to address inequalities in STEM participation. We aimed to better understand why and how people from all backgrounds engage with science and how their engagement might be increased through different formal and informal science related experiences – such as visiting museums and science centres.
The Science Museum Group’s mission is to Inspire Futures with a core priority is to ‘grow science capital in individuals and society’. We see that through better understanding why and how different people participate in science related experiences, the concept of science capital can help us deliver to and achieve our ambitions and brand values. We are therefore putting an organisation-wide effort into translating the science capital research informed best practice into operational realities.
Applying science capital research to our practice
Whether it is behind the scenes or in a public facing role, everyone in who works in our museums plays an important part in creating a welcoming, relevant and inspiring experience for all our audiences.
It is about looking critically at how we work every day to create an environment which reflects our visitors’ perspectives and life experiences. By doing that, we hope that we will give more people, more chances to recognise that science is something that is useful and valuable in their lives, now and in the future.
Applying research into practice is work in progress, we don’t have all the answers. But we want to support all our staff to recognise the value and impact this best practice can bring to our work and are rolling out workshops and communication and creating tools and resources that will help us to do that.
In summary we are using the research to:
- Reflect on our day-to-day practice using our science engagement reflection points which are based on the different dimensions of science capital.
- Audit and reflect on our current offer to help us recognise our strengths and to identify challenges and where there are new opportunities in our existing offer.
- Review and improve the support and information we provide for visitors to maximize the experience of a museum visits, including teacher CPD and our museum, home and classroom activities.
You can read more about the Science Museum Groups science capital approach in our Engaging all Audiences with STEM: An equitable approach informed by science capital booklet.