This research and development project used the concept of science capital to understand how young people from all backgrounds engage with science and how their engagement might be supported.
Our approach aimed to highlight the relevance of science to young people’s futures and find ways to connect school science with students’ diverse identities and lives.
It involved collaboration between schools, young people and their families, and museums and science centres.Enterprising Science aimed to engage more young people with science by:
- Increasing understanding about the factors that influence science engagement and participation.
- Developing new approaches for engaging students from all backgrounds with science, particularly focusing on those from disadvantaged schools and communities.
Research shows that the more science capital a young person has, the more likely they are to study science post-16 and to see science as ‘for me’.
Yet national survey data shows that 27% of all 11–17 year olds have low science capital, particularly those from disadvantaged schools and communities. This limits their opportunities and outcomes in life, and contributes to the shortfall in young people in the UK choosing STEM subjects.
Science capital can help us to understand what influences and shapes people’s attitudes towards science (whether they see science as for them or not).
The Science Museum Group provided practitioner-based expertise about outside classroom learning.
We developed tools and approaches to apply the science capital research to operational practice for the informal science learning sector to maximise the impact of STEM engagement for the widest possible audiences.