WSC has a wide catchment area with many visitors travelling up to 60 minutes. Our focus has been to look within this area to better understand those who we do not currently engage with.
We have researched where our visitors travel from and who we currently engage with outside the science centre. This has highlighted specific areas where visitor engagement numbers are considerably lower than average. We looked at historic periods over 5 years to better grasp which geographic regions showed trends of lower attendance. This highlighted several areas of interest.
WSC’s STEM engagement team, STEM NOW who administer the STEM Ambassador contract, CREST Awards and other national projects, have access to the secondary schools that have the lowest STEM attainment and lowest post 16 STEM take-up. The STEM NOW team and STEM Learning have identified 6 priority schools to focus their attentions of the STEM Ambassador Programme, within our geographic visitor reach.
We found that overlaying these priority schools with areas with the lowest visitor numbers displayed an alarming correlation. The schools with the lowest STEM attainment were also the areas with the lowest visitor numbers to WSC and could potentially represent an opportunity to make lasting change to communities that need it the most.
We are particularly interested in working with:
- families living in rural isolation
- people with diabilities
- BAME communities
- military families
- low-income households
From this extensive research we went to speak to representatives from the community and the priority schools to better understand the reasons for this. WSC will designate six areas to focus on for the next eight years. The priority secondary schools and areas are:
- Cantell School – Southampton
- Brune Park Community School and Bridgemary School – Gosport
- Everest Community Academy – Basingstoke
- Winton Community Academy – Andover
- Mill Chase Academy – Bordon
- Alderwood School – Aldershot
There are 52 feeder primary schools in these regions with 15,000 pupils on role.
1in5 will build long term relationships with schools to help increase STEM uptake in those areas and drive visitors who currently are not engaging to WSC. 1in5 will be showcasing the impact STEM can have in improving lives, celebrating disabled role models and at all times, promoting WSC as a welcoming space for all.
1in 5 will recruit Accessibility and Engagement Officers to build relationships, not only with schools and communities listed above bit also with regional/national charities and organisations focusing on accessibility, enabling WSC to deliver workshops and activities, distributing ‘golden tickets’ incentivising participants and their families to visit WSC.
WSC has piloted a community engagement scheme to better understand the approach to working with these organisations and delivering STEM activities in the community.
Making a noise
Our live science team will deliver impactful activities to the general public at national events, exploring STEM achievements in improving lives, celebrating disabled role models and promoting WSC as a welcoming space for all.
In 2017, WSC launched a new partnership agreement with the University of Southampton. This will involve us working with the Public Engagement in Research unit at Southampton to jointly deliver roadshow activities at national events such as Cheltenham, New Scientist Live, Winchester Science Festival, Farnborough Air show, and other major events locally and nationally.
WSC will be using these events to showcase the powerful message of 1in5 and promoting the core aims of the project.