MAKING SCIENCE ACCESSIBLE
Nottingham City Council commissioned research that indicated awareness of Nottingham as a Science City was low among people aged between 19-45. In those with a Science background or from a STEM based profession, 71% were not aware that Nottingham had the status of Science City.
More significantly, Nottingham has stated its aspiration to create a science and technology based economy by 2020, but the STEM attainment levels of its school and further education student population are below national average. There is also a lack of a connection between information, advice and guidance provided to young people and the needs of employers especially in STEM related industries. For many young people STEM frequently engenders anxiety and uncertainty –‘not for the likes of us’.
The Science City Pop-up Shop model will create city-centre community facility focusing on STEM opportunities for experiment, hands-on activities, information, advice and guidance. This will bring a unique variation of the pop-up shop (different but based on a model in San Francisco 826Valencia.org) to a retail centre in need of refreshment.
STEM workshop activities will be open to schools to book into thus creating a variation on traditional school based lab lessons. New technology developments such as Raspberry Pis and 3D printers will be available; a small studio will enable students to make STEM related communication videos and podcasts.
The profile of STEM learning and employment will be raised in the city in a setting that will be familiar and unusual – a shop but with a difference. The activities planned will also forge new partnerships between schools, city departments, further and higher education, industry and related agencies such as STEMNET.
The sustainability of the project comes from the partnerships that will be forged. Shared interests in student recruitment will bring education institutions on board. Employee recruitment will attract the CSR support of STEM industries. Some income will also be derived from charges to schools for STEM related workshops and one-off demonstrations/events.
The Nottingham City Deal for the Creative Quarter will also provide networking and other value in kind. Since it is also a shop, there will be some retail income from sales of Science Kits, outputs from 3D printers etc.
The enterprise has significant and potential scalability for alternative classrooms programmes (as the bulge in school populations exceeds classroom capacities); and for other alternative uses for redundant retail space. There will be increasing access to 3D printing for domestic purposes, and shops offering such a service will also become more common.