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Community grants up for grabs with British Science Week

BRITISH SCIENCE WEEK: Community groups can receive grants of up to £1,000 to run activities

BRITISH SCIENCE WEEK is offering grants of up to £1,000 to community groups to run their own activities over British Science Week (8–17 March 2019), helping support and empower groups of people who may not typically engage with science.

Successful applications in the past have come from a variety of organisations and groups – from libraries to kids’ clubs, to refugee and mental health groups and beyond.

We spoke to founding director of LPF Kiddies Club CIC, Carmel Britto, who told us how the grant helped her in the past.

LPF Kiddies Club CIC started as a holiday club in 2013 and has since grown to include after-school provision, workshops, a summer school and community events. They currently work with 5-12 year olds.

Its work with parents covers safeguarding and parenting workshops, financial literacy courses, personal and professional development and family learning, to enable parents in “supporting their [children’s] educational journey.”

The club relies on grant funding and fundraising to subsidise the provisions they provide and were recipients of British Science Week Community Grants in 2016, 2017 and 2018 which they utilised to host community events and workshops for British Science week in each of these years.

The club’s British Science Week events explicitly focused on identity with an underlying theme that children are ‘STEM heroes’ taking on a series of challenges to understand the world they live in and get more connected to scientists “who look like them, sound like them, come from their background”.

During the activities, children had to choose whether they were a scientist, an engineer, a technician or a mathematician. They had to say why and at the end discuss why they still want to be in that group, what they’ve learnt and what jobs they could end up in if they were working in those fields.

The events aimed to help expand children’s aspirations. According to Carmel, when she designed and facilitated the STEM Heroes programme and events her aim was “for them to understand that they can go on into these careers and be these scientists that they didn’t think they could be,” particularly in relation to race, gender and class.

PICTURED: Carmel Britto

She said: “Representation matters, and it is important that children from BME and disadvantaged backgrounds get to see that there are scientists who look like them, sound like them and come from the places they come from currently working and studying within the field of STEM and that they too could be one day.”

How did the British Science Week Community Grant help?
The first British Science Week grant in 2016 helped LPF Kiddies Club to explore new ways of introducing STEM to the club’s children whilst allowing them to see the connection between science and their everyday lives. Subsequent grants enabled them to introduce new areas of study to LPF Kiddies Club’s provision including coding and robotics.

Carmel said: “We realised there was a lot of interest among the club families to be able to take part in interactive STEM based activities, which was amazing. The children and the families really wanted it. They needed something like that.”
Last year, with the help of their community grant, LPF Kiddies Club ran a six-week science club with £500 funding supporting their desire to move away from ‘one-off events’. In order to improve upon her knowledge base and source potential speakers and workshop facilitators for the STEM Heroes programmes and events Carmel set about to develop connections with other science led organisations and institutions.

She contacted Imperial College and UCL and has since gone on to work with UCL on other workshops and projects. This is an example of how LPF Kiddies Club have developed networks, in particular with black science communities.

Carmel said representation is important but the club had “very few connections to black scientists and so we took to social media to help us expand our network”.
After putting a call out on Twitter for support, Carmel was “inundated” with responses. She said: “We’ve managed to build a lot of really good connections on the back of that. It’s meant that we’ve got into a lot of conversations with a lot of people in industry as well which is helpful for understanding how we can reshape our provision.”

Discussing her identity now, she said: “I wouldn’t say I see myself as a scientist, but I do see myself as an enthusiast.”

Find out how to apply for a British Science Week Community grant here.

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