Case Study: Create and Inspire Training
Who: Dundee Science Centre (DSC) in partnership with the University of Dundee and Dundee College.
What: Create and Inspire: Science Communication training for Research scientists
Why: DSC developed ‘Create and Inspire’ training for researchers and scientists to help them learn about the style and ethos of science communication in a science centre context.
Where: Dundee Science Centre
When: Programmes run for three months throughout the year, either at specific times as programmed in the brochure or by request for your research group or organisation
Create and Inspire is a one day training programme offered at Dundee Science Centre. It is for researchers to develop confidence in developing and delivering their own public engagement activities. The researchers are encouraged to be creative and ensure their passion for science is communicated through the activities.
Following the training day researchers are given the opportunity to trial their activity in an inter-professional sharing session. Within this supportive environment researchers are able to receive feedback and discuss the finer details of running their activity, in preparation for the culmination of the project: engaging the public with their research at a Science in the City Event.
The Science in the City events ran from January – July 2010. Scottish Government funding supported these events, aimed at engaging the following audiences: children and adults in family groups; children in organised groups; adults. Events were held on weekdays and over the weekend to ensure we catered for different audiences. At the weekend and on public holidays the events reached family audiences, uniformed groups such as the Brownies and Scouts, tourists, students, teenagers and adults. During the week the researchers engaged with a schools audience aged 10-14 years.
- Inspire and support researchers to develop public engagement activities
- Provide opportunities for ‘hands on’ experience to motivate researchers in the future
- Enhance local connections with the universities and community for Dundee Science Centre
What worked well
Between November 2009-March 2010, 56 researchers took part in four Create and Inspire days, with all researchers reporting that they felt more confident to deliver public engagement activities, as highlighted by the continued evaluation throughout the process.
Feedback from the inter-professional sharing sessions that followed the training days was very positive from both the delegates and the DSC Science Learning Team. These sessions highlighted the use of language and the need to avoid jargon in particular. Following the session delegates discussed alterations they were going to make to their displays in the week prior to the Science in the City event.
An additional outcome of this session for DSC was that the science communicator staff learnt about current research being carried out in the local universities, for their own professional development, including an increased confidence in discussing the different displays with the visitors on the actual Science in the City day.
Initially the training primarily encouraged researchers to develop activities targeted towards young people, as this is the predominant focus of DSC.
Yet, we have now been able to diversify the audiences for the public engagement activities. Notably through the Reclaim event at the DSC in May 2010, which targeted the hard to reach 18-30 age group. In July 2010 a further outreach event, ‘Science in the Supermarket,’ was held in Fife Shopping Centre.
Finances, time, opportunities for public engagement to take place. The science centre is perceived as a natural place to do this and so a lot of good will existed in the first place.
Don’t underestimate time. It takes a lot of organisation and admin to support the training and development of anyone.
Encourage creativity. Allowing people to devise their own activities really assists in ensuring researchers are able to convey their passion for their research.
Promote your events. When providing the opportunity for trainees to engage with the public ensure that events will be well attended by public and or schools otherwise it could be de-motivating.
Name: Louise Smith CEO, Hannah Crookes Director of Science Learning & Public Engagement
Name of organisation: Dundee Science Centre
Telephone: 01382 868601
Website: DSC science learning institute