Science and Society Strategy takes off
The five Strategy groups (see People & Science June 2009, p5) have begun developing a coherent long-term action plan for science and society in the UK.
Science and Learning has launched a written consultation to help find out where the existing progression routes in science education are working well, establishing where there are gaps in the current framework and how these gaps might best be addressed. The consultation runs until 18 September.
The Science and the Media group has split its work into three distinct areas. First, a Training and Best Practice Working Group, focusing on improving the quality of science coverage. Second, an Engagement and Programming Working Group on improving scientific programming content and considering barriers to engagement with new/diverse target audiences. Third, a Transparency and Knowledge Transfer Working Group, understanding what science journalists really do.
The Science for All group has undertaken seven pieces of work to come to its next meeting in late September. They are on vision, rationale, cultural exclusion, training in public engagement, recognition, mapping of infrastructure, and structures and processes for public participation.
The Science for Careers group is focusing on key communication issues around STEM careers, including an overview of issues raised in consultation and prioritisation of issues and messages. The group discussed mechanisms of delivery of careers information, advice and guidance.
The Science and Trust group was the last to meet at the end of July. Its discussion of transparency in the governance of science in both the public and private sectors made it clear that these two audiences have differing issues.
After each of the groups had held their first meetings, the Chairs got together to discuss areas of common ground and to ensure that any synergies and overlaps were sorted out. It was clear from all the meetings that links between the groups need to be strong.
Each of the groups has also put a marker down to work out appropriate evaluation methods to assess the progress and impact that their work will have. None of this is easy, but everyone involved to date has said it’s worthwhile.
Science in the summer
The Science: [So what? So everything] campaign headed for the beach. Science by the Seaside, which ran in August, was a successful bid to capture large numbers of people and families who decided to holiday in Britain. Seaside Scientists ambushed promenaders with thought-provoking science tricks and ideas of where to find out more when they got home. Also playing into the holiday theme was Questions Kids Ask, a PR initiative based on a survey identifying the most popular questions that children ask their parents, e.g. why is the sky blue? where do babies come from?, and providing the answers.
Support through sport
The dynamic connection between sport and science is well-known but has it been properly used as a way of publicising the relevance and benefit of science? With the 2012 Olympics just over the horizon we believe that there is much to be gained from making visible the role of science in sporting excellence: in developing technique and physiology, in new designs and materials for equipment and sportswear. Watch out for the launch of ‘Science…So sport’ which is coming soon.
Introducing the iAwards…
Lord Drayson and James Caan (from Dragon’s Dens and a Science: [So what? so everything] campaign ambassador), have launched a new iAwards competition and event to find and celebrate the most innovative companies in the UK. The iAwards will include one award, for the development of a consumer product, selected by the public. Look out for the results in November.
To find out more about the UK Science and Society strategy visit: http://interactive.bis.gov.uk/science%20andsociety/site/ 
To find out more about the Science: [So what? So everything] campaign visit: http://sciencesowhat.direct.gov.uk/