I’m Liz and I’ve just started in the Engage UCLan team. Over the next couple of years I’ll be doing lots of STEM activities and workshops with school students, as well as helping out with other public engagement projects.
Last week Jo and I were lucky enough to attend the Science Centre World Summit (SCWS) 2014, in Mechelen, Belgium. The conference brought together lots of interesting people from across the globe who worked in science centres, universities and other science communication and community-focused organisations. It was held in the rather awesome Technopolis. The science centre has an incredible range of interactive exhibits that communicate many areas of science, to all ages.
When we weren’t looking round the fab exhibits (we also got to see the largest dinosaur bones collection in Europe at the Museum of Natural Sciences in Brussels, who helped organise the conference), we got a chance to go to some really interesting talks on engaging different people with science.
One of the sessions that stood out for me was about Maker culture and the Maker faires that are popping up around the globe. Jo and I had a go at some of the maker activities in a pop-up maker space and after a bit of a struggle with a soldering iron (I am not a natural) we managed to make some rather jazzy flashing badges.
Another session I particularly enjoyed was about the importance of science and learning with early-years children. It is amazing how much cognitive development takes place in the first few years of life and the session explored some of the ways you can engage young children with STEM to help them understand the world around them and develop critical thinking. There is a space in Technolopolis full of exhibits and activities for early-learners. Jo and I explored it and we got a little bit creative with the foam Lego.
SCWS 2014 was a great conference, with lots of really interesting sessions relevant to the work we do here at Engage UCLan. One of my favourite things about the summit was the warm and friendly atmosphere. There was a real feeling that it was a place you could openly discuss ideas, share best practice and explore collaboration. I’m sure the next summit in Japan 2017 will be just as good!