Explainers across the Science Museum Group capture the imagination of thousands of visitors every day. It is their job to inspire curiosity and light a spark that could lead to a lifetime of engagement in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths).
With the start of the new school year approaching the team were keen to refresh their knowledge of science capital and celebrate the fantastic practice that had been happening across the museum.
As all the Explainers had a solid base of understanding of the science capital and science engagement research, the time was dedicated to putting the research into practice through the context of their role.
The refresher sessions revolved around our science capital informed engagement reflection points and how they could be applied across the museum. It was incredibly inspiring to hear how the team have applied the practical suggestions across the breadth of their practice.
‘We wanted the workshop to refresh the team on the concept of science capital whilst relating it specifically to their role and the delivery they do every day. It was a nice way for the team to recognise areas where they are already implementing science capital without realising it and use that as foundation for how we develop our programme in the future.
It acted as a nice confidence boost for the team and provided them with a few new skills whilst clarifying some of the questions they had around science capital.’
– Lauren Hamilton, Explainer team leader
In the sessions, one reflection point came through particularly strongly – using everyday examples. Much of the team highlighted this as a strength and demonstrated several instances where they have successfully implemented it, usually around connections to everyday life and making unexpected links. However, it was in discussion around workshops that this reflection point stood out.
As workshops are made on a rolling basis, there is the opportunity to bring in influences from popular culture. Examples of this include: the unbelievably popular fidget spinner workshop from summer 2017 which took inspiration from the fidget toy craze, and this year’s ‘plant power’ and ‘solar detectors’ workshops, both of which catered to increased public awareness of environmental issues. By reacting to trends these workshops continue to be as popular as ever as well as helping us widen what is perceived as STEM.
Within the sessions, the team were also keen to recognise and reflect on areas for improvement. By placing a greater value on the informal and unstructured conversations they have on the museum floor they could reinforce many of the messages which were put across during programmed shows and workshops and create a stronger sense of relevance for the audience. Many also felt strongly about the fact that current programming does not necessarily reflected what was happening outside the museum, such as pride or black history month, and that this is a missed opportunity to tell those lesser told stories.
All the explainers felt that taking time to reflect on their practice gave them a boost in confidence and that the refresher helped them recognise and celebrate the great things they do every day. It was great to see the ways in which the reflection points had been interpreted and the extent in which they had been embedded throughout the museum.
Having the opportunity to work more in depth with the explainer team and to help them further embed our science engagement tools into their practice was very rewarding. It felt like a big step towards achieving our goal of applying and embedding a science capital approach across the Science Museum Group.
To find out more about our experience and progress to date in applying and embedding a science capital approach across our group of museums have a look at the other posts in our Organisational Change series.