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Manchester Community Science Awards

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Who: The Manchester Beacon

What: Four awards were made available to develop PE activities during Manchester Science Festival

Why: To make science inspirational, accessible and relevant to local communities and encourage collaborative partnerships between research groups

Where: Manchester

When: 2010

Project description

The Manchester Beacon invited submissions for the Science Festival Community Awards. Four awards of up to £2000 each were available to develop PE activities during the Manchester Science Festival 2010. Prospective participants were invited to take part in an ideas workshop and networking event where they could meet potential partners. Following a panel interview comprising of; the Manchester Science Festival Director, The Louise DaCocodia Education Trust (community organisation) and the UCL Beacon evaluator, four awards were made.

  • The Dragons’ Den: Institute for Cultural Affairs, School of Pharmacy (UoM), Salford Business School (UoS), School of Life Sciences (UoM)
  • The art of Science: Scholl of Translational Medicine (UoM), Development Education Project and Inspired Sisters
  • Transforming Guns into Goods: School of Arts and Design and School of Computing, Science and Engineering (UoS), CARISMA and PeaceFM
  • Climate change testimonies from Refugees: Research Institute for Cosmopolitan Cultures, School of Chemical Engineering and Analytical Sciences, School of Environment and Development (UoM), Manchester Refugee Support Network and Virtual

The Beacon team supported awardees through 3 support meetings to share their successes, concerns and problems. Learning was also captured creatively through images, video and podcasts as part of Learning Journeys, the Manchester Beacon online PE portfolio.


  • Develop cooperative networks between research networks and community groups
  • Make science inspirational, accessible and relevant to local communities
  • Develop community engagement activities during Manchester Science Festival 2010

Results and outcomes

What worked well

  • Initial ideas workshop and networking event facilitated the creation of new collaborative partnerships
  • Project participants benefitted from two way learning through collaborative partnerships. For the researchers, they were able to increase their confidence in working with culturally diverse groups and using creative approaches. For the communities the projects raised awareness of the relevance of research activity.

“I enjoyed an interesting discussion on global warming... I learnt... video editing skills and I can use the skills in my community if required. I would like more discussion about the subject of climate change and refugees, and want to use my time and skills for projects like this” Climate Change Workshop participant

  • New audiences were reached by both project partners

“This is Physics? It’s not like the science at school. I didn’t know you could do Physics at University” Transforming Guns into Goods workshop participant

“There are ways to make science more accessible... it’s changed my opinion” University of Manchester Academic

  • The projects received good PR coverage within the regional press with support from Communications Group and Manchester Science Festival
  • Projects generated resources to be used in future PE activities.
  • Three of these projects aim to work collaboratively of future projects and are exploring funding options.
  • The Manchester Science Festival aims to embed the awards within the core of the festival programme as part of their new community engagement strategy.

Lessons learnt

  • Allow more time to run the projects as people delivered ambitious activities
  • To encourage more engagement between the different projects
  • Consider launching earlier as the beginning of the academic year is a difficult time for academic/researchers to get involved in projects

Top Tips

  1. Promote the use of creative methods to engage audiences
  2. Incorporate training opportunities within the project to maximise the impact and sustain the benefits of the project
  3. Manage expectations from different partners in collaborative projects
  4. Disseminate learning and working model from these projects as wide as possible


Name: Suzanne Spicer

Organisation: Manchester Beacon Project Manager (University of Manchester)