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The UK Association for Science and Discovery Centres brings together over 60 of the nation's major science engagement organisations, who together reach 20 million people each year

Welcome to the ASDC Newsletter

A round-up of the month's interesting updates, developments and opportunities for science engagement professionals across the UK.
A very warm welcome to our December 2015 newsletter, sharing all the latest news with UK Science and Discovery Centres and partners.
We were very encouraged by the Government's Spending review and Autumn Statement announced by Chancellor George Osborne last week. In particular I'm delighted to see the Government reasserting its firm commitment to ensuring the UK remains at the forefront of World Science by backing UK science with real investment.
The Government has also reaffirmed its long-term capital commitment for science of £6.9 billion between 2015 - 2021 which is great news for UK science and for all the millions of families and schools we collectively engage.

Here at ASDC we are also busily preparing for the hugely exciting launch of astronaut Tim Peake, who blasts off into space on Tuesday 15th of December. ASDC are celebrating this momentous occasion with fabulous public events up and down the country through our 'Destination Space' Programme. This programme, funded by the UK Space Agency, involves 20 Science Centres and Museums delivering events, shows and schools workshops and will engage over 250,000 children and adults across the UK over the coming year.
Warm season's greetings to you all.

Dr Penny Fidler, CEO

This Month:


This Month's Top Stories

Tim Peake launches into space on Tuesday 15th of December

Blast Off!

Tim Peake, the European Space Agency’s first British astronaut, is due to launch and travel to the International Space Station on December 15th. Tim will spend around 6 months living and working in space.

To celebrate this fantastic occasion, science centres across the UK will be holding special launch events as part of the ASDC-led 'Destination Space' programme. Find out what events are happening across the UK to celebrate Tim's launch on the Destination Space website and Principia website.

Follow Tim's Journey

Watch live on BBC ONE from 10:30am and streamed live at

A full list of BBC coverage of Tim Peake's mission can be found here.

ASDC Conference Photos and Notes

It was wonderful to see so many of you at The 2015 ASDC National Conference in September. You can now see all of the lovely photos from the day on our website. Notes from the discussion tables and the conference evaluation report are also online.

See the conference photos here.

Notes from the discussion tables here.

How will we power the UK in the future?

ASDC is delighted to announce a series of public lectures by The Government Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Mark Walport. These will be happening at Science and Discovery Centres across the UK over the next few months, and will address how we currently supply and use energy, and the options we have for the future. 

Tuesday 8th December: At-Bristol Science Centre

Monday 18th January: New Walk Museum, Leicester

Tuesday 9th February: Glasgow Science Centre

*New date* - Thursday 7th April: Dynamic Earth


Latest science news from Government

ASDC were very encouraged by the Government's Spending review and Autumn Statement announced by Chancellor George Osborne last week.
The details of the Government's commitment to ensuring the UK remains at the forefront of World Science can be found in section 7.4 'Investment in Science' of their summary of the autumn statement.

You might also like to read the summary relating to science on the website of the Campaign for Science and Engineering.
Of note to the Science Centre sector, are the on-going discussions ASDC has been having with BIS relating to the Inspiring Science Capital Fund which would come from the Government's science capital commitment and which we will update members when we have further information. You are of course welcome to phone Dr Penny Fidler for further information on this.

Get involved in The Crunch

The Crunch is an exciting new UK initiative by the Wellcome Trust, about our food, our health and our planet. Throughout 2016, free experiment kits will be sent to schools and colleges, events for families and adults will be running up and down the UK and Ambassadors will be recruited to help spread the word.

ASDC are delighted to be a commissioned partner in this project, along with At-Bristol Science Centre, Centre for Life, Dundee Science Centre, Eden Project, Eureka!, Glasgow Science Centre, Techniquest, Thinktank and W5. These nine UK Science Centres will be delivering The Crunch’s family programme from May 2016. You can sign up to be part of a network of ambassadors to help deliver activities.


Explore Your Universe National Meeting

ASDC were delighted to welcome participants of the STFC-funded ‘Explore Your Universe' programme to Bristol earlier this month for the 2015 National Meeting. It was wonderful to hear the amazing work that the 20 partner science centres and universities have been doing to engage hundreds of thousands of school children and adults with engineering and the physical sciences, and sharing the ground-breaking work of STFC and the brilliance of UK science.

Borrow the Moon

You can borrow samples of Moon rock and Meteorites, in STFC's Loan Scheme.

Valuable samples of moon rock and soil were collected during manned space missions to the Moon in the late 1960s and early 1970s and brought back to Earth by NASA's Apollo astronauts. STFC is the only authorised source for the loan of this precious material to educational or scientific organisations within the United Kingdom. Five educational packages are available free of charge (including special security delivery/collection) for short term loans of lunar samples and meteorites.


Royal Society Partnership Grants

Partnership Grants of up to £3000 are available to schools to enable students, aged 5 – 18, to carry out science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) projects.

The Partnership Grants scheme offers funding to UK schools or colleges to buy equipment to run a STEM investigation project in partnership with a STEM professional (research or industry).


IOP Public Engagement Grant Scheme

The Institute of Physics 2016 Public Engagement Grant Scheme is now open. This Public Engagement Grant Scheme provides up to £2,000 to those running physics-based events and activities in the UK and Ireland.

The grant scheme has two rounds each year. Round one of the 2016 scheme is now open and applications must be received by noon on 14 January 2016.


Propose an event for the British Science Festival 2016

Would you like to bring cutting edge science to a wider audience at the British Science Festival?

Taking place from 6-9 September, the Festival will be hosted by Swansea University with a focus on showcasing cutting-edge science. Thousands of people come together to celebrate the latest developments in science and to engage in open discussion about issues that affect our culture and society.

The Open Call for proposals is now open to academics, individuals and organisations. Proposals should be aimed at non-specialist adults with a broad interest in science.

Apply now or

Data visualisation: The fight against antimicrobial resistance across Europe

An new interactive data visualisation from NESTA aims to show how Europe is faring in the fight against resistance to antibiotics. It uses the latest available data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). The visualisation shows acquired resistance of five common bacteria (such as E. coli) to a range of antibiotics for each of the EU/EEA member states. 


Key international appointment for Life’s CEO, Linda Conlon

Chief executive of Newcastle’s International Centre for Life (Life), and current ASDC Trustee Linda Conlon, has been elected to a top role with the global body representing science centres and museums.
Linda becomes the first woman from Europe (and only the second European in its 42 year history) to be elected Chair of the Association of Science and Technology Centres, (ASTC).

Based in Washington DC, ASTC’s members total more than 660 organisations from 50 countries, spanning the continents of the world. As chair of ASTC, Linda’s role is to promote excellence and innovation in learning outside of the formal environment of schools and academic institutions. She will also lead ASTC in its efforts to help members address critical global issues such as climate change where an understanding of and engagement with science is essential. 


Hypatia Project

Empowering  girls to embrace their possibilities in science and technology-related careers
Hypatia, a new €1.5 million EU Horizon 2020-funded project, will address the challenge of gathering different society actors around bringing more teenage girls into STEM careers. In this challenge, schools, science centres and industries play a major role.

The Hypatia project wants to reach teenage girls and boys, teachers, head teachers, policy makers, researchers, industries, science centres and museums, with innovative and effective ways of creating awareness and interest in these STEM areas.
One of the most important outcomes of the project will be the development of a toolkit, with different and practical activities that will help three main groups, teachers, museums and industry, carrying out gender inclusive activities.

Hypatia will run for three years and involves 18 partners from 15 countries across Europe.


Engaging with the RSB curriculum committee

The Royal Society of Biology Curriculum Committee would like to invite you engage with them on their work developing a biology curriculum for ages 3-19. They are gathering evidence and speaking with the community to put together documents that can be used to support future policy work. They will then  be in a good position to produce an informed response when there is the next curriculum review.
The committee have a section on the TalkBiology forum where questions have been posted that relate to the biology curriculum, and they are looking forward to hearing your responses, which will help inform their work.

Read more... 

NCS Opportunity Hub - calling partners

The National Citizen Service is pleased to announce that the re-launched Opportunity Hub is now live. 

The Opportunity Hub is a platform to signpost opportunities and activities for NCS graduates. Every young person who has taken part in NCS this year has received an email inviting them to sign up, and they will receive regular newsletters reminding them to re-visit the site to find new opportunities. 

This is a chance for you to promote your fantastic programmes, services, campaigns, events, jobs, internships and training opportunities to NCS graduates. 


Youth Equity Pathways in Informal Science Learning

The Youth Access and Equity in Informal Science Learning project brought together those working in science centres, media, zoos, museums, aquaria, parks, clubs and community groups across the UK and the US to discuss issues relating to equity and access in informal science learning contexts.

The project was a collaboration between teams from King’s College London, University College London, Michigan State University and Oregon State University, as well as partners from informal science learning institutions, and was part of the Science Learning+ phase 1 scheme.

Summary documents are now available if you would like to read about the conclusions and discussions arising from work on this project. The infographic illustrates key findings and figures, and the research and practice agenda outlines promising directions and priorities for future work in this area.

Longitude Prize results and first anniversary

Last month the Longitude Prize celebrated its first anniversary, and announced the results of the last submissions.

The new Longitude Prize, launched a year ago, celebrates the original Longitude Act of 1714 that used an incentive of £20,000 to entice new innovators to solve a big global problem: determining a ship’s position at sea. Professor Dame Sally Davies was delighted to announce that the UK public voted in their thousands last year for antibiotics to be the topic of this new Prize, following the BBC Horizon’s 50th anniversary episode.


Einstein 100

For the 100 year anniversary of Einstein's theory of General Relativity, Laboratory of Astrophysics in Switzerland have just released a short animation today narrated by David Tennant & animated by Eoin Duffy, co-written by Jamie Lochhead and Dr Anais Rassat and funded by STFC.
See the video on YouTube

Calling all teachers!

Science in a Different Light is a set of free video resources and activities for secondary science teachers. The resources feature case studies with real scientists and engineers talking about their work, and how it relates to science taught in school.
The video series kicks off with two animations narrated by physicist and broadcaster Professor Jim Al-Khalili, which encourages students to think about what it means to be curious, ask questions and understand.
Take a look and do share to your colleagues:

A new mark of excellence for science teaching

The Science Learning Network has announced the launch of Science Mark, a scheme that recognises science departments which have achieved excellence to secure better outcomes for their students.
This stamp of quality enables secondary schools across the UK to evaluate, strengthen and celebrate their science provision. It has been developed with teachers and experts and is based on strict criteria covering: learning and teaching; curriculum; and leadership and management.


Science and maths send girls' future wages soaring

New research highlights that STEM qualifications send girls’ earnings soaring by a third.

Landmark research shows that achieving 2 or more A levels in science, technology, engineering or maths (STEM) subjects adds 7.8% to a man’s earnings, when compared to just gaining GCSE-level qualifications. But the returns for women are much higher, with earnings being boosted by 33.1%.

Since 2010 the government’s plan for education has included a focus on encouraging more young people, especially girls, to study STEM subjects. This has resulted in 10,000 more STEM A level entries for girls, with subjects like chemistry seeing as much as a 19% rise.


Purpose and Quality of Education in England

The Education Committee has announced an inquiry into the purpose and quality of education in England. 
Written evidence is invited addressing the following points:
  • What the purpose of education for children of all ages in England should be
  • What measures should be used to evaluate the quality of education against this purpose
  • How well the current education system performs against these measures

The deadline for receipt of evidence is noon on Monday 25 January 2016. Please submit evidence through the online forum.

Central government arts and museum funding stable to 2020

On the 25th November Chancellor George Osborne announced the detail of his much anticipated Comprehensive Spending Review and how it will affect cultural services.  The Chancellor’s statement prefaced his plans by saying that, "One of the best investments we can make as a nation is in our extraordinary arts, museums, heritage, media and sport" and that cuts to the DCMS would be a "false economy".  He said, “the government is committed to supporting the arts and our world class national museums and galleries which make a rich contribution to society and our economy”.
Specific funding commitments for museums include:

  • Funding for national museums will remain at the current level until 2019-20 and free admission maintained.
  • £150m in investment to replace the outdated storage facility used by the British Museum, Science Museum and V&A at Blythe House and replace it with a new state of the art building to store two million fragile objects.
  • £5m will go towards the £66m cost of a transformation at the Burrell Collection which will close for three years for major work.  A Treasury source described the contribution as a "testament to the collection's huge cultural relevance for the United Kingdom as a whole".
  • The British Library has been invited to make the case for a print collections management hub at its Boston Spa site.
  • The National Museum of the Royal Navy will receive £2m of LIBOR money for major new projects, while the D Day Museum will receive £600k.
  • There will be a £5m contribution to Manchester Museum’s new South Asia gallery.

With thanks to the National Museums Directors' Committee for this summary.


Association for Science Education conference 2016

6 - 9 January

For four days, ASE hosts over 400 CPD science education sessions presented by teachers, leading scientists, researchers and education organisations. Throughout the conference there are lots of valuable opportunities for more informal professional and personal development through the science resources exhibition, drop-in activities and the chance to share experiences with teachers.


The Little Event

Wednesday 13th January 2016

BIG's one-day conference is for early-career STEM communicators who are keen to suck the knowledge and experience out of those who have been at it for ages. It is also an excellent opportunity to make professional and friendly relationships with others in similar work, or to update job-hunting skills for those hoping to take a next step in their careers.

The programme makes use of the wealth of experience within BIG’s membership to support a classroom-sized bunch of delegates in their professional development. The formal programme is being written and will be announced soon.

But of course the BIG Event isn’t just about the sessions, it’s the people you meet there too. The Little Event also presents a great opportunity to meet people from across the UK working in similar roles and sharing similar experiences.


Learning Research Conference

Thursday 21 January

You're invited to a conference to launch a Learning Research Agenda for natural history institutions, which will take place from 10.00-16.30 on Thursday 21 January, 2016.

This conference is the culmination of a series of seminars, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), which brought together museum learning practitioners and cross-disciplinary academics to explore and unpick the complexities of
learning in natural history environments.

The resulting agenda has implications for bridging research and practice and is structured around problems of practice that need to be addressed to understand learning in our field.


Speakezee Night

19 February

Next year, is launching a nationwide network of expert speaker events called Speakezee Presents with a showcase evening at the Royal Institution on Feb 19th. 

The London event promises to be fascinating, with three brain-related talks given by top neuroscientists and a special beat-the-clock segment where scientists have to explain their research in layman’s terms in less than 3 minutes.

To coordinate with the London event, there are satellite events happening across the UK in major cities around Feb including Bath, Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, Dundee, Edinburgh, Exeter, Leicester, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Oxford, Southampton and York,  


Disabled Access Day

12 March

Do you have great disabled access? Join Disabled Access Day and showcase your accessibility, raise the profile of your venue and engage with more people.
Disabled Access Day is a national event that aims to encourage disabled people to visit somewhere they’ve never been before, whether that’s a coffee shop, a museum, a cinema or anywhere else. In 2016 Disabled Access Day will take place on 12th March and we would love you to join us on the day.



Do you have news to share with the network? Send it to us!

IOP Public Engagement Grant Scheme

Deadline: 14 January

Royal Society Partnership Grants

Deadline: 1 February

Association for Science Education Conference 2016

6 - 9 January, Birmingham

The Little Event

13 January, Birmingham

Learning Research Conference

21 January, London

British Science Festival

6 - 9 September, Swansea

Ecsite Annual Conference 2016

9 - 11 June, Austria

Primary Science Teaching Trust International Conference

9 - 11 June, Belfast

EuroScience Open Forum 2016

23 - 27 July, Manchester

STFC Astronomer

Royal Observatory Greenwich
Deadline: 06 December

SEPnet Outreach and Ogden Science Officer

University of Surrey
Deadline: 06 December

Media Officer

Science and Technology Facilities Council
Deadline: 08 December

Chief Executive

Science Gallery International
Deadline: 09 December

Training Officer

Royal Society of Biology
Deadline: 09 December

Research Communication Officer

Deadline: 09 December

Ogden Science Officer

University of Bath
Deadline: 16 December

Digital Communications Officer

Science Oxford/The Oxford Trust
Deadline: 18 December

Head of Education, Communications and Outreach

Deadline: 26 January
Looking to recruit someone? Want to attract as wide a pool of candidates as possible? Send us details. On average the job opportunities listed attract a large proportion of the click-throughs from the newsletter, which is sent out to a broad range of professionals working in and with the science engagement sector.
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