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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 May newsletter.

ASDC are wishing all our science centres and museums a happy and busy half-term, bringing great hands-on science to hundreds of thousands of families in this busy week.

We are delighted with the Science and Technology Select Committee taking such a lively interest in how the public is engaged with science across the UK, and welcome their inquiry into science communication. For more information and ASDC's submission, read on.
As many of you will know, ASDC bid for capital funding for UK science centres in our proposal 'Inspiring Science' and was delightfully successful in this, to the tune of £20 million from BIS and £10 million from the Wellcome Trust. An update is in this newsletter and details will be circulated to all members soon. This excellent capital fund will be the first time many science centres will have been able to apply for capital investment from Government to help them inspire young people and families with STEM, and marks a major step forward for the sector.
ASDC and the science centres have also just started delivery of The Crunch, our fantastic new national programme for families. Packed full of hands-on experiences, The Crunch helps people of all ages explore our food, our health and our planet. Meanwhile the first results are in for Destination Space, and in just the first 4 months (October - February) our 20 science centres engaged over 296,000 children and adults with family science shows and school STEM workshops celebrating Tim Peake's mission. He returns to Earth on Saturday June 18th, landing in Kazakhstan to lots more celebrations nationally.
We hope you enjoy this science engagement-filled newsletter and look forward to seeing colleagues from the UK and across the world at the 2016 Ecsite meeting in Austria next week.

Dr Penny Fidler, CEO

This Month:


This Month's Top Stories

The 2016 ASDC National Conference

Tuesday 27th and Wednesday 28th of September 2016
We are delighted to announce that The 2016 ASDC National Conference will take place on Tuesday 27th and Wednesday 28th of September in the wonderful Royal Society, London.
This lively national conference will bring together professionals from the UK's leading Science and Discovery Centres, Science Museums, Natural History and Environmental organisations as well as Public Engagement organisations and science-based visitor attractions.

Bookings will open in July. We look forward to seeing you there!

ASDC Dinner in Graz at Ecsite

8 June, Graz

The 2016 Ecsite Conference is taking place in the beautiful city of Graz, Austria, a modern and vibrant city bursting with wonderful architecture. The main conference takes place on Thursday 9th – Saturday 11th June. 

ASDC would like to invite you to join us for the ASDC Dinner on Wednesday 8th June from 8pm at The Eckstein Restaurant - an ideal restaurant to enjoy the historical heart of the city.

Please book on Eventbrite by 11pm, Tuesday 7th of June so we can reserve you a seat. We look forward to seeing you there!


£30 million for UK Science Centres

ASDC and the science centres were delighted with the announcement in January by Jo Johnson, Minister for Universities and Science, in which he confirmed a £30 million Inspiring Science Capital Fund. This fund includes £20 million from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and £10 million from the Wellcome Trust.

This excellent capital investment will be the first time many science centres are able to apply for capital funds from Government, to help them inspire young people and families with STEM.
The Wellcome Trust and BIS have been discussing the details, including the launch date and criteria for the grants, and we will keep all our members fully informed as this information is released, and of course details of the fund will feature prominently at The 2016 ASDC National Conference in September.

You can read the BIS press release here, and Jo Johnson's full speech here.

The Select Committee inquiry into Science Communication

We are delighted that in response to ASDC's request, so many ASDC member organisations were able to submit evidence to The Science and Technology Select Committee inquiry into UK Science Communication. 

The ASDC submission can be found on the Parliamentary website here. All your Submissions can be found here.

The Committee is still accepting submissions, if you have not yet sent anything. The Science Centres and museums across the UK are the major science communication and engagement providers in the UK so please do share what you do.
The first oral session featured NERC and Boaty McBoatface and the video of the evidence session can be viewed on the inquiry website.
Dr Penny Fidler met with the Clerk of the Select Committee on Monday. The next evidence session will be in June, with those being approached to give evidence being invited very shortly..

Kick off for The Crunch!

Exciting news at ASDC as nine science centres across our network have started to deliver The Crunch, our fantastic new national programme for families. Packed full of hands-on experiences, The Crunch helps people of all ages explore our food, our health and our planet. Visitors can also enjoy playing the brilliant digital game ‘Hungry City’, both at the events and online, which connects to and enriches the live activities. We were commissioned by The Wellcome Trust to develop this programme, and these live and digital experiences explore questions such as: Where does our food come from? What is in our food? How does the food we consume impact our health, and the health of our planet?

The first outreach events have now taken place in Belfast and Dundee with great success, and visitor numbers exceeding expectations.  In total we anticipate engaging over 54,000 at similar outreach events alone over the summer!

Throughout the summer, at least 100 different events will take place, both in science centres and at community outreach fairs and festivals, scattered throughout rural and urban locations. Pop along to the events and jump up on one of The Crunch Bikes to make yourself a nutritious juice to  drink. You can also grind grains, cook up your own tasty tortillas, and make sushi and cups of tea to keep you going!
For a full list of events, see the The Crunch website for details, where you can also have a go yourself at saving 'Hungry City'.

The Crunch Schools Kits 

We are excited to tell you about The Crunch kits for schools that have been sent to all science centres within the ASDC network. These were addressed to the ASDC network reps. Please let Andy McLeod know if you haven’t received anything.

Every school and FE college in the UK is receiving these kits from Wellcome, working with Pearson and SciChem. The kits are also being sent to Pupil Referral Units, teacher training institutions and other learning providers. You may also be interested in the drama resources have been produced for ages 7-11 and 11-19 to enable young people explore some of the big questions surrounding connections between our food, our health and our planet.
We hope you enjoy experimenting with the free resources and would love to hear about any plans you have to use them in your learning and engagement programmes.

Destination Space reaches over 296,000 people

Destination Space is a national programme for science centres developed and managed by ASDC to celebrate Tim Peake’s mission aboard the International Space Station. This highly engaging and interactive programme of family shows, schools workshops and meet the expert events reached over 296,000 people across the UK in just 4 months, including over 31,000 school students. 

Delivered by 20 centres trained in this programme by ASDC, across the UK, this programme has exceeded all expectations and continues to engaged people both young and old with Tim Peake’s mission and the wonders of human spaceflight.

With Tim Peake’s stay in space now extended, the Destination Space programme continues to attract 1000’s of people. 

To find out more visit or follow us on Twitter @destin_space.

Expect Everything launches across Europe

ASDC is the UK partner for a multi-million Euro pan-European programme to get more girls interested in Science. The project began last year and has now been launched across Europe, with ASDC also operating the UK hub.

Research shows that the way sciences are communicated to young people, in and out of school, is not yet gender inclusive. What is more, young Europeans, both boys and girls, still have very little idea of the variety of careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), and the skills that are relevant for those paths.

The overarching Hypatia project aims at engaging 13-18 year old teenagers in STEM in a gender inclusive way and addressing the attitudes of STEM education professionals towards more gender-inclusive practices. In order to do this, Hypatia brings together science centres and museums, schools, research institutions and industry with gender experts and teenagers themselves. These groups of stakeholders work together on national and European levels through 14 hubs, co-developing the content and co-organising activities and events.

The campaign engages teenagers through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vimeo and Tumblr and The project also launched, a website dedicated to teachers, head teachers, museums, industry sector and researchers that offers them tools and activities that will empower the different stakeholders to teach and communicate STEM subjects in a more gender inclusive way and to address gender unbalance in STEM professions.

Tim Peake returns to Earth on June 18th

It’s official, Tim Peake will now be staying on board the International Space Station until the 18th of June, providing him with almost 2 weeks more time in space. In the early hours of Saturday the 18th of June, he will start his journey back to earth.

The schedule (as it currently stands) is:
Hatch closes 04.00 BST
Undocking 07.00 BST
Deorbit burn 09.35 BST
Landing estimated at 10.32am BST
Press conference expected to start between 14.00 -15.00 BST
Tim tweeted “I get to stay an extra few days in space. Looking forward to being back, but loving it here and a lot more to do!”
ASDC continues to support Tim Peake’s principia mission through the Destination Space programme which is being delivered throughout the UK. See more at or follow us on Twitter @destin_space.

Rocket Science growing in a centre near you

As part of the Royal Horticultural Society Rocket Science programme, 20 Destination Space delivery centres have now received rocket seeds that have been in space on board the International Space Station. Rocket Science will see participating school pupils and centres across the country spend 35 days analysing the growth and development of two batches of seemingly identical rocket seeds. However, one batch of seeds has spent time in space with Tim on the International Space Station, orbiting the Earth at 17,000mph. The aim of the experiment is to enthuse young people about science and horticulture and provide the European Space Agency with key insights into some of the challenges of growing food in space.

With 20 Science centres now taking part, school children and the public previously not taking part can see the Rocket Science experiment during their visits. The project is set to engage 600,000 school pupils throughout the UK.  Results of this fantastic experiment will be published on the RHS website later in the year.


Explore Your Universe celebrates reaching 341,714 people

Phase 2 of the Explore Your Universe programme developed and managed by ASDC is now complete, and has now engaged 341,714 people with physics and the very latest STFC research.

Phase 1 reached 156,880 in the first year of delivery and Phase 2 reached an additional 184,834 adults and children across the UK throughout 2014/15. This national programme has been hugely successful in engaging audiences with physics and the importance of looking from the very small, such as the make-up of atoms, to the enormity of the Universe. 

ASDC trained and supported 20 centres throughout the UK to deliver this programme. The equipment and legacy continues to play an important part in engaging both public and school audiences with Physics.
Evaluation of Phase one of this programme resulted in the UK’s largest academic study into science learning in informal contexts. The evaluation report of Phase two is due for release in the next month.

New Principia Education Grants

To further the impact of Tim’s mission on young people and to maximise the legacy of the programme, the UK Space Agency is making up to £100K available to organisations to run schemes that support the education and outreach opportunities of the Principia Mission. Between 3 and 8 proposals are expected to be funded and applications are now welcome. The scheme is open to both organisations and individuals who meet the eligibility criteria.

Successful applications must support the education aims of the UK Space Agency, be directly linked to Tim Peake’s mission to the ISS and encourage participation in STEM subjects.

STFC exhibitions hit the road

Ever wanted to know how it feels to walk alongside the Large Hadron Collider, fire one of the most powerful lasers in the world, or peer into the night sky from the Atacama Desert? Find out this summer and beyond as STFC takes its amazing interactive exhibitions on the road.

STFC supports the UK science community with touring exhibitions that feature life-size replicas and scale models of awe-inspiring experiments, informative displays, topical science images, hardware, animations and interactive exhibits that describe the lives of our scientists at home and abroad. If your centre is interested in hosting one of these roadshow exhibitions, find out more here.

Principia Schools Conferences

2 and 5 November (Application deadline 15 September) 

The UK Space Agency wants to celebrate the imaginative work linked to Tim Peake’s Principia mission that is being done by children of all ages by organising a pair of schools conferences where they can present their work to leading space experts and, if his schedule allows, Tim Peake.

These conferences will take place at the University of Portsmouth on Wednesday 2 November 2016 and the University of York on Saturday 5 November 2016.  Attendance at the conferences will be free, with travel bursaries available to help with the cost of getting to the venues. Each conference will include presentations and displays from the young people invited to attend, keynote talks from leading figures and the opportunity to meet and talk to experts from the space industry and the many Principia education programmes.

Applications to attend are invited from any individual, or groups of people of school age (up to and including A-Levels, Scottish Highers, BTECs and similar).


Data from The Science & Technology Select Committee

The Science & Technology Select Committee has release the following data sets and evidence to inform people’s decisions around the EU referendum.

EU membership and UK science - Evidence
Corrected oral and written evidence on the Inquiry into EU membership and UK science

EU membership and UK science - Data for figures

2nd Report - EU membership and UK science

STEM Learning & STEMNET working together to secure the future of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics

In order to maximise the opportunities in STEM for all young people in the UK, the boards of two of the country’s most significant supporters of STEM education – STEM Learning Ltd and STEMNET – are pleased to announce their intention to enter into merger discussions with a view to combining their operations by 1st August 2016.

Between them, STEM Learning and STEMNET operate some of the most important, influential and internationally recognised programmes supporting STEM education and skills in the UK today1, including: the National STEM Learning Centre and Network, Project ENTHUSE, ESERO-UK, STEM Ambassadors and STEM Clubs. For more than a decade, both organisations have been working to improve young people’s outcomes in STEM education, to grow the numbers studying STEM subjects and to make STEM careers an attractive choice. Combining their operations will allow STEM Learning and STEMNET to integrate their expertise, build on their research and utilise their networks to maximum benefit, helping to further address the UK’s skills and productivity challenges, close the skills gap and develop the UK’s science capital. 

Changes to Ecsite Membership

Important changes to Ecsite's membership scheme will be brought to the vote during their Annual General Meeting on 10 June, with the aim of making the rules simpler with regards to Full membership and Associate membership.

This new principle will make Ecsite an organisation where most members receive equal rights and benefits; they believe that it will make the network’s governance more representative and will generate a stronger commitment from a larger number of organisations and individuals.


Royal College of Pathologists Grants

Deadline: 13 June

The Public Engagement Innovation Grant Scheme was introduced to give financial support for the delivery of a range of pathology-related events throughout the UK. Grants of up to £1000 are available for individuals or organisations who wish to develop pathology-related public engagement activities or events.

The Innovation Grant Scheme aims to: inspire innovative and creative pathology related public engagement projects and activities; raise public awareness of pathology; develop the science communication skills of pathologists and laboratory scientists; stimulate discussion about pathology between pathologists and the public.


Communicate 2016: Swapping Spectacles

2 - 3 November

Communicate is the UK's environmental communications conference, returning to Bristol in 2016, and this year exploring the challenge of walking a mile in someone else’s shoes and looking at the world from another perspective.

Join colleagues in the stunning setting of Bristol Zoo Gardens for two days of inspiring content, interactive workshops and engaging discussion in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere that provides fantastic networking opportunities.


Westminster Education Forum

Reforms to science at GCSE and A-level: implementation, practical science and support for teachers and learners.

5 July, London
Seminar delegates will explore: changes to science qualifications at GCSE and A-level including the role of practical assessment in science education at A-Level and GCSE; tackling teacher shortages in STEM subjects; and increasing participation and growing the uptake of STEM subjects at A-level and university.

The keynote address is from Rebecca Rylatt, Lead Policy Adviser for Science, Department for Education. Other speakers include Dr David Cameron, Education Programmes Manager, The Institute of Physics and Dr Ellie Cosgrave, Director, ScienceGrrl.


National Women in Engineering Day

National Women in Engineering Day (NWED) is an International awareness campaign to raise the profile of women in engineering and focus on the amazing career opportunities available to girls in this exciting industry. It takes place annually on 23 June.

In 2016 we celebrate NWED for the third year.

Make sure you are involved. The 2016 Resource Pack has just been released. Download or request your copy now.


Science in Public 2016 Conference

13 - 15 July

The annual Science in Public conference is an occasion for cross-disciplinary debate and discussion and a forum for sharing all work considering the relationships between science, technology, medicine and their multiple publics. Scholars and practitioners attend from a wide range of specialisms related to science including, for example, science communication; history of science; science policy; geography; psychology; literature; social or cultural studies; public engagement; and the arts. Sessions will include work on science in mass media, museums; public engagement; popular science; science, publics and policy; and science in fictions, art and cinema.


BSA Science Communication Events

15 June 2016 – BSA Masterclass: Science Communication Primer (Manchester)

People’s History Museum, Manchester, 10am-5.30pm

An essential event for researchers, full-time communicators or volunteers, in their first few years of science communication. Key science communication figures will lead interactive sessions onstory-telling, understanding your audience, choosing your medium, evaluation, and next steps for career development. 

7 September 2016 – Science communication and engagement drinks

JC's Bar, Swansea, 5pm-7pm

A drinks reception for science communicators of all backgrounds and levels of experience as part of the British Science Festival. An interview with a key figure from the science communication and public engagement world will kick off the conversations.

WISE Conference 2016

10 November

Gender parity in science, technology and engineering, from classroom to boardroom. Why it matters ~ How to make progress ~ What you can do to help.

The WISE Conference 2016 welcomes women at all stages of their career in science, technology and engineering, men who want to play their part in building a more diverse workforce, education and training providers, managers, HR/Diversity and inclusion professionals, professional bodies and policy makers.It is a great opportunity to access the latest insight, learn from others, make valuable connections and raise your profile.

Read more..

Engage Competition 2016

Are you involved in public engagement with research? Have you worked on a brilliant project that you want to share? The NCCPE Engage Competition is back for 2016 and open for applications.

The NCCPE are running this national competition to find and celebrate high quality public engagement with research projects. Across the UK researchers are engaging the public in lots of different ways and for lots of different reasons. They want to recognise and reward high quality examples of public engagement in practice. 


Science Writing Competition

Deadline: 24 June

The UWE Bristol SCU Science Writing Competition is back in 2016, with the aim of giving new science writers a head start in their careers.Aimed at non-professional science writers, the competition is run by UWE Bristol’s Science Communication Unit (SCU) in partnership with BBC Focus magazine and the Royal Institution.

Entrants are invited to write a 700-word article about “The Next Big Thing in Science.”


The Great Bug Hunt Competition

This is a great competition for primary schools to get pupils using the outdoor classroom. Simply identify a local habitat, explore and discover the bugs that live there, draw them and record your findings – it’s that simple!

“The Great Bug Hunt competition is a fun and fascinating way to introduce children to the weird and wacky world of mini beasts...” - Kate Humble, BBC Wildlife Presenter


iolight Microscopes Launch

Laboratory microscopes produce beautiful images, but cost over £3,000 and are difficult to use. Cheap microscopes do not have enough resolution for professional use or teaching. ioLight has invented a portable microscope, with a resolution of better than 1μm, which produces beautiful pictures of animal and plant cells and displays them directly onto your tablet or mobile phone.

They are ideal for use in science centres, offering a cost effective method of displaying microscopic images and video that are simple to use.


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

Royal College of Pathologists Grants

Deadline: 13 June

Science Learning+ Grants

Deadline: 14 June

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

British Science Festival

6 - 9 September, Swansea

The 2016 ASDC National Conference

27 - 28 September, London

Research Engagement Manager

Cancer Research UK
Deadline: 29 May
Read More... 

Keeper of Technologies and Engineering

Science Museum
Deadline: 30 May

Web Moderators

I'm a Scientist, Get me out of here
Deadline: 30 May

Executive Officer for Public Engagement, and Manager, Centre for Public Engagement

Queen Mary University of London
Deadline: 2 June
Read More... 

Scientific Communications Manager

MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine, The University of Edinburgh
Deadline: 2 June
Read More...  (Vacancy Ref: 036226)

STEM Learning and Development Manager

The Prince's Trust
Deadline: 3 June

Public Programmes Project Manager

Manchester Nowgen Centre
Deadline: 3 June
Read More... 

Education Coordinator, Wales

Royal Society of Chemistry
Deadline: 5 June
Read More... (Vacancy Ref: 4728BR)

Science Communications Manager

Cancer Research UK
Deadline: 5 June
Read More... 

Physics Outreach Officer

Royal Holloway University of London
Deadline: 6 June

Programmes Administrative Assistant

Royal Geographical Society
Deadline: 6 June

Education Manager

British Science Association
Deadline: 10 June

Clothworkers' Fellow in Mathematics/Masterclass Programme Manager

The Royal Institution
Deadline: 12 June

Head of Policy and Communications

The Physiological Society
Deadline: 15 June

Public Engagement Officer

Queen Mary University of London
Deadline: 16 June
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