Science is a creative and imaginative endeavour, it is a way of thinking, asking questions and observing the world around us, seeking evidence and finding answers. These skills are a way of working and is one of the many reasons why STEM subjects open doors and can be invaluable in almost any job, across any sector.
Whether its talking about science, making observations, using evidence to support ideas, curiosity or teamwork to discover new things, the experiences we provide in museums give our visitors the opportunity to use and develop science skills. These are skills that are used everyday by scientists and engineers.
We all have and use many of these different skills everyday, often without thinking about it – from giving presentations at work to playing video games. If we can help more people to recognise that they already have and use these skills and where they can be transferable to many different jobs, it can help boost confidence and a sense of personal relevance around STEM.
Our science engagement reflection tool has helped us find ways to celebrate the science skills visitors use, both in our museums and beyond. Here are just a few examples…
To help address the STEM skills gap, an event called Future Engineers at the National Railway Museum aimed to help families and schools see that engineering skills are transferable and useful, whatever you want to do. Helping visitors recognise that they use engineering skills in their daily lives, hobbies and jobs was key.
When we were developing the event, we asked lots of engineers what skills they use the most in their work. The 3 main skills that told us were: creative problem solving, curiosity and teamwork.
At the event visitors were asked whether they thought they had or used any of these skills in the last week. Few people raised their hands initially, but following this up with examples – has anyone turned the brightness down on their phone, ‘Googled’ the answer to a question, or played a team sport? – it inspired a much stronger response, and helped them to recognise that in fact engineering skills were something that they had and could do.
The activities aimed to build students awareness and confidence and demonstrate that they used these skills every day. We wanted to help them recognise that they were behaving just like scientists and engineers and to see how science is a relevant and useful subject in their life which could support them in their future aspirations – whatever they might be.
We have also added detail on the front of all our hands on activities which highlight the skills that will be used as you do the activity. Exhibitions
Marketing & social media
Social media is another good platform for asking questions that draw links between science skills and visitors’ own experiences. For example:
How do you help visitors recognise that they have and use science skills and see where they are useful and transferable to other parts of their life?
Laura Bootland, Learning Resources Developer at National Railway Museum