Inspiring change at the Science Oxford Centre

Monday 27th September 2021

Science Oxford is delighted to have taken part in ‘Project Inspire’ with the Association of Science and Discovery Centres‘ (ASDC) this spring and summer and inspired change in our Centre! In March of this year, we were lucky enough to be chosen as one of eight UK Science Centres awarded a grant of £15,000, to develop new, innovative and digital ways to engage underserved audiences with STEM. Our Centre Manager, Dr Emily Fisk, is behind the project delivery here – read on to find out what’s been happening over the last few months…

“It’s been fantastic to work on Project Inspire. We invited local groups to work with us including Berkshire Vision, Oxfordshire Association for the Blind (OAB) and Autism Family Support for Oxfordshire, to co-organise activity days at our Science Oxford Centre, the UK’s first indoor-outdoor primary science education centre, to understand the challenges these families may face both in-person visits and online, and to co-design digital resources that could enhance their engagement with STEM or science.

We initially consulted both staff and families about how they experience science and whether digital resources could support or enhance a visit to our Centre. As a result of their feedback, we improved our website design and navigation, and are now in the process of creating digital accessibility guides for our Exploration Zone exhibits and woodland.

Project Inspire also supported the Science Oxford team to attend a Special Educational Needs (SEN) in STEM training day with specialist Sarah Bearchell. This has given the team new ways to involve different sensory experiences within STEM activities, which could help support STEM engagement by individuals with a range of sensory needs. Those of you who attended our Creative Computing Club – our coding club for children aged 9-12 and their families – ‘Creature Circuits’ session last May will have experienced some of these new tips and tricks in action!

As part of the project, OAB have also provided our team with Visual Impairment Awareness Training, as well as new Braille signage for a selection of our Exploration Zone hands-on exhibits, already in place and proving a welcome addition to our visitors. We are incredibly grateful for this additional support, and we are already planning Braille signage for more aspects of our Centre.

We have been so lucky to be part of this project, and to have developed new relationships with all three of these local community partners, along with getting to know the teams at the other UK centres too. We look forward to continuing our work and arranging more family activity days together in the future, and to be able to test our new resources with the families who gave us their ideas in the first place!”

Read some comments and see some pictures from our fantastic summer Project inspire day!

“Indoors, the wind and sound based play was fun”

“As a visually impaired person (VIP), I don’t want to have to hold stuff close to my face to see it, as it makes me feel conscious and awkward”

“Pond dipping – it was great learning about all the creatures. Nature is great!”

Dr Emily Fisk, Science Oxford Centre Manager

Science Oxford Centre staff photo of Dr Emily Fisk

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