‘The powerful concept of science capital can change the practice of the Science Museum Group and potentially that of many people involved in informal science learning.’ Director of Learning, SMG
STEM engagement is at the heart of what we do at the Science Museum Group (SMG), 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.
SMG have been working with by King’s College London and University College London on the Enterprising Science project since 2012, 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.
We recently launched our Inspiring Futures 2017-2030 strategic priorities where our number one 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.