As we approach the end of 2023, let’s take a moment to reflect on our hard work and accomplishments over the past 12 months at the British Science Association (BSA). We’re proud to be able to engage and empower those underrepresented in, and underserved by science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).  

So to mark the end of the year, we’re wrapping up all of the BSA’s key milestones in our final blog post of 2023 

But before we begin, we’d like to thank each and every one of you for your continued support and interest in our work. We hope to keep you engaged and inspired for many years to come, and work together to create a future where science is more relevant, representative, and connected to society. 


British Science Week highlights

March marks one of the biggest milestones in our annual calendar – British Science Week! 

This year’s theme was all about Connections, and brought together thousands across the country for ten days of exciting events and activities. We were thrilled with the high engagement as a whopping 102,630 students took part in our annual poster competition and our activity packs were downloaded over 78,000 times 

We’re proud to have awarded over 300 British Science Week grants, supporting local communities and schools in doing science that is meaningful to them                                               

Our eagerly awaited Smashing Stereotypes campaign returned, featuring brand new films showcasing the stories of inspiring scientists, dispelling preconceived ideas about what a scientist is and what they do.

Looking ahead, we’re preparing for the 30th anniversary of British Science Week in 2024! Our very first goes way back to 1994, so our theme next year is a very special one – ‘Time.’ The countdown is on and we've already gotten started, with the launch of our taster activity packs and our grants back in September.  

Look out for the full 2024 activity packs in January, and for brand new Smashing Stereotypes profiles in the run-up to the big Week 



Our work addressing regional science inequality 

In July, the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Diversity & Inclusion in STEM shared its third report on regional inequalities in STEM skills. The BSA provides the secretariat for this APPG. 

The report reveals how the UK’s most deprived constituencies are approximately three times more likely to pursue further education courses in STEM. Since most industries and opportunities are focused in London and the South East, many people struggle to enter these fields 

The APPG calls on sector leaders and Government to ensure fair and equal access to STEM opportunities. They emphasise opening up pathways like innovation clusters, low-carbon industries and critical technologies for everyone. 


Youth voices on climate & sustainability

Our Future Forum report in June surveyed 1,000 UK teenagers aged 14 to 18 on their views on climate change and sustainability education. The findings indicated that young people want more relevant and rigorous teaching about climate change. Students want to gain skills that teach them how to tackle future consequences of the climate crisis and that are relevant to their lives. The research was conducted by the BSA and funded by the University of Plymouth to amplify young people’s voices and understand their experiences of the climate change curriculum in secondary school 


The Ideas Fund: what we’ve learnt so far 

The Ideas Fund, launched in January 2021, brings together people who have an idea about how to improve the mental wellbeing of their local community with researchers who can help turn this into a reality. 

In July, the grant programme launched its first insight report which summarises what we’ve learnt so far from those involved. The report discusses the need to adapt funding approaches to build stronger relationships between communities and researchers. It also analyses the various roles researchers play in projects and the impact created on both communities and researchers. The report concludes with recommendations for others considering similar approaches. Top of Form 

You can stay up-to-date by following The Ideas Fund on X and Facebook! 

CREST Awards round up: our impact 

The BSA published its latest CREST Awards impact report for the 2021/22 academic year in July. The report revealed how they have boosted science engagement opportunities for students, teachers and employers across the UK. 

CREST is the BSA’s flagship education programme and during the 2021/22 academic year, we saw a remarkable increase in CREST participation rates. More than 56,000 students – double the previous academic year – across 1,129 UK schools submitted CREST Awards. These students spent over half a million hours to STEM projects and activities.  

CREST particularly focused on students who experienced the greatest learning loss during the pandemic year, with three in five schools that ran CREST supporting high proportions of students from groups underrepresented in science. 

Don’t forget to sign up to our newsletter for teachers and educators for all the latest on CREST Awards and our education work! 


Insights into young people's relationship with science and society 

In September, we launched our Youth Insights Data findings, after four years of researching young people and their views on science. Through a series of workshops and polls, around 8,000 14-to-18-year-olds across the UK told us how they felt about science and its role in their lives.  

The data shows how young people don’t always have overly positive views about science. Even if they’re interested, they feel anxious about expanding their science knowledge. Notably, girls expressed feeling less connected to science than boys, despite having similar levels of interest. Overall, the data reveals how more, and more relevant, engagement is still needed to better empower and involve young people with science. 


The best bits from the British Science Festival 

This year’s British Science Festival took us to the historic and vibrant city of Exeter to celebrate the people, stories and ideas at the heart of science, in partnership with the University of Exeter.  

A highlight event on everyone’s lips was ‘The Killer Fungus’ escape room, where visitors played a real-life scenario to tackle a deadly new disease. Guided by experts from the Centre of Medical Mycology, they learned how research and life-saving treatments combat global health threats today.   

The other events, talks, and discussions at the Festival were also nothing short of spectacular. Don’t take our word for it, read our blogs from speakers at #BSF23: Sculptural snogging and Decolonising medicine. 

Looking ahead to next year, we’re delighted that the British Science Festival will be hosted by the University of East London between 11-15 September 2024. If you're an academic, local venue or regional business and want to get involved, we want to hear from you! 

Our Open Call for event proposals has now opened! Anyone can propose an event including researchers, industry professionals, artists, writers, organisations, charities, academic institutions, and more! We’re seeking a range of event formats from talks to drop-in activities and creative content to challenge perceptions of science and engage a broad audience.  

Welcoming new faces 

We were honoured to welcome this year’s president of the BSA, Director of the British Antarctic Survey, Professor Dame Jane Francis. Her Presidential Address took place at the British Science Festival.  

In our two-part blog series, we relive her interview with journalist, Gaia Vince, and offer a glimpse into her childhood, education and the early days of her career. Jane addressed how she is seeing the impact of climate change on the ice caps before her eyes, and the urgent need for more climate education.  You can read Part One and Part Two here. 

New cohort of community leaders 

We were delighted to introduce our cohort of Community Leaders for 2023/24 who will work as ambassadors for science engagement within their communities. These twelve individuals were selected for their passion for science and strong community connections to effectively engage them in science.  

Since 2018, the BSA’s Community Leaders programme has been providing leaders with year-long training, support and mentorship as well as funding to run extended science activities within their community. 

The 2023/24 Community Leaders cohort came together on Monday 17 October for their first in-person workshop to get to know each other and learn more about their organisations and share insights behind joining the Leaders programme.  


Youth voices on nuclear energy

We published another Future Forum report in December exploring young people's views on nuclear energy and careers. BSA research reveals that at least two-thirds of young people would consider a career in the nuclear industry. Though many don’t feel well-informed about nuclear energy, they recognise it as playing a role in the UK’s net zero journey. These insights are especially relevant as 45% of young people ranked the climate crisis as their top concern. 

This Future Forum was supported by Urenco as part of their commitment to education and skills development.  


For Thought highlights  

The 2023 theme for our annual thought leadership event, For Thought, was ‘Science, innovation, and national priorities: Deciding the future of food, education, and health’. Speakers discussed the role of science and innovation (AI in particular) in these areas. 

For Thought invites cross-sector senior leaders from business, science, policy and civil society to explore the role of science in solving the greatest challenges of the day, and how science can better work alongside other areas of industry.