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June 2013

Welcome to the blog, you can read all about the latest news for the sections and take a look in our archive. Scroll through the latest posts below, or select a section from the dropdown.

By Katherine Mathieson, Director of Education for the British Science Association

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Is citizen science merely hype, a fresh way of branding a type of volunteering that’s been around for ages? Or is technology driving new ways to engage public audiences?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately as a result of the citizen science session at last month’s Science Communication Conference. I had the privilege of chairing a panel of three researchers and one communications professional who each had deep experience of running citizen science projects.

Jayesh Navin Shah, a researcher working on the Public Attitudes to Science survey 2014, discusses public views of GM.

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Genetically modified (GM) crops – the hardy perennials of science stories – were back in the news last week. The Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson, made a speech at the Rothamsted Research Institute about the future of GM in Europe, and the potential for the UK to become a world-leader in GM crop technology.

Politicians have long tried to engage the public with the issue of GM, with very mixed success – this Guardian blog post rounds up over a decade of politician’s speeches on the subject. In the media, polarised views are presented and there is much heated debate. So how can policymakers ensure an informed discussion of the science behind GM, in the next weeks and months?

by Ellie Chambers, Young People’s Programme Officer at the British Science Association.

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Students put in a lot of time and effort into completing a CREST project, and we don’t want the students’ journeys to end there. We encourage them to continue to engage with the sciences and engineering in a number of different ways, including through our alumni network, volunteering or public dialogues.

Deepesh volunteering at the National Science + Engineering Competition Finals 2013 (photo courtesy of NSEC)

So we were delighted to find out that one of our alumni was using his CREST skills to work with a local school as part of his biology degree.

Marilyn's avatarMarilyn Booth works in digital communications within the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), enabling policy makers to utilise digital and social tools during consultation processes and beyond. Prior to that, she worked within the BIS Science and Society team. One project she worked on was Public Attitudes to Science 2011, where she ran a blog for the duration of the project.

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I was involved with the previous Public Attitudes to Science survey within BIS, so I’ve obviously got a keen interest in seeing the results this time round.

Will we see greater engagement with science? Will people’s attitudes divide them up into segments, with different and multi-layered attitudes to science?

Victoria Raynor is a year 4 teacher and STEM lead at Stephenson Memorial Primary School in North Tyneside. She tweets the STEM club activities from @raynor_vicky & @SMemorial

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STEM: a word so familiar now, that it is hard to believe that two years ago it had very little meaning to me. It all seemed to change in an instant when I attended an inspirational North Tyneside Learning Trust STEM conference in November 2011.

Year 6 students amazed that they have made their own glue!

The underlying message was clear; we need to act immediately to create a generation of children that have the skills and qualifications necessary for a STEM career. The conference certainly had a significant impact on me and the senior management team at my school, but I didn’t realise the changes that would occur as a consequence.