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What’s happening at the British Science Association? March 2009

Lisa Hendry looks ahead

Renamed and reinvigorated

Our new identity as the British Science Association was unveiled in January, at a House of Commons reception hosted by MPs Ian Gibson, Ian Taylor, and Phil Willis, represented on the day by Evan Harris.

Professor Lord Winston, past-President and long-time supporter of the organisation, explained the rationale behind the rebrand – to better reflect and express our vision and purpose, with people at the heart of what we do.

Our vision is of a society in which science advances with the involvement and active support of the public; a society in which people from all walks of life are able to access science, engage with it and feel a sense of ownership about its direction. Our strength is to bring science and people together, helping scientists and science communicators to engage with publics of all ages, primarily through face to face contact.

We achieve this through four increasingly interlinked national programmes which are supported by a regional and branch structure: the British Science Festival, National Science and Engineering Week (NSEW), our CREST Award scheme and the Science in Society programme.

National Science and Engineering Week starts now!

We coordinate NSEW on behalf of the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) in partnership with the Engineering and Technology Board. The UK-wide, 10-day celebration of science and engineering will be taking place from 6-15 March 2009.

Now in its sixteenth year, NSEW is an annual event that aims to engage and inspire everyone, from the young to the young-at-heart. It also draws many scientists and engineers into the public domain to discuss their work.

NSEW events

NSEW is growing year on year. Over a million people took part last year, in around 3,500 events. You can find your nearest event this year by searching the online programme at

That’s also the site to visit to find out about the many other activities taking place: from ‘Darwin in Space’, a nationwide schools’ competition, to the ‘Save our Bees’ campaign that encourages people across the country to take positive action to help the nation’s bees, which are dying out in huge numbers with serious consequences.

Another of our initiatives this year is the Change Exchange blog. It’s an opportunity for anyone to share their hopes and concerns for the future directly with some of the UK’s scientists and engineers, who will also be sharing their personal and professional thoughts about the future of science and technology. To join in, visit

Climate diaries

We are also helping the British Natural History Consortium to promote ‘The UK Climate Diary’. This project aims to create the biggest record of how individuals in the UK are being affected by climate change by gathering stories, photographs and memories, whether of observations we’ve made or lifestyle changes we’ve implemented, that show the impacts that climate change is having on us all.

Big bang

NSEW itself will start with a major celebration of the science and engineering achievements of young people – The Big Bang: UK Young Scientists and Engineers Fair. This landmark event will be held in London from 4-6 March. Regional finalists of the CREST Awards and Young Engineers for Britain will exhibit their project work and compete for a number of exciting prizes.

On top of this, the two 13-19 year olds who win the new National Science Competition, being coordinated by the British Science Association on behalf of DIUS, will be crowned ‘UK Young Scientist of the Year’ and ‘UK Young Technologist of the Year’: a fitting start to a week that promises to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers.

More information about the activities of the British Science Association can be found at

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Lisa Hendry
Lisa Hendry is the Press Officer at the British Science Association
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