As 2021 draws to a close, it offers us all a chance to reflect on the highs, lows, and everything in between from the past 12 months.

In our final blog post of the year, we’ve done just that. We’ve squeezed in many of the British Science Association’s most memorable moments, from our new 10-year strategy, to a British Science Week event with the Queen (we couldn’t not name drop), and take a look ahead to what we aim to achieve in the future.

But before we get stuck in, we’d like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you for your continued support and interest. 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.

This blog was adapted from the December edition of our monthly e-newsletters. To get the latest news, project updates and ways to get involved in the British Science Association’s work, straight into your inbox each month, subscribe here.

Count me in


British Science Week

March always marks a major milestone at BSA-HQ - British Science Week!

Granted, this year’s build-up wasn’t very typical. The pandemic threw some challenges our way, but despite this, we were blown away by the thousands of ‘Innovating for the future’ themed events and activities that took place across the country as part of the ten-day celebration.

For the first time ever, the activity packs were curated to be used at home and in the classroom – and were downloaded a whopping 95,000 times. We also awarded over 500 Kick Start grants to schools in challenging circumstances and over 120 Community grants to local groups to organise their own events during the Week.

Not to mention, *the* Queen also joined in the British Science Week fun with a virtual space-themed event hosted by Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock, who is currently serving as the BSA's President.

As you may already know, next year's theme is ‘Growth’. We're kicking off the countdown with the release of our taster activity packs, and we also launched our grants back in September. 

Keep your eyes peeled for the full 2022 activity packs which will be released in January!

Download the 2022 taster activity packs


For Thought

At the start of this year, we announced For Thought as the new name for our thought-leadership programme, previously known as the Huxley Summit. We also changed the format from a one-day standalone Summit, to a series of events and activities.

The theme for this year focused on the ability of societies and systems to withstand shocks – or build resilience. Six For Thought roundtables took place in early 2021, the insights and ideas were then summarised in the first report from the series, ‘Build better’.

Here's a snippet of the key recommendations, which call for leaders to:

  1. Put future generations at the heart of our institutional and systems decision-making
  2. Share benefits of research and innovation across different communities.
  3. Create a long-term leadership coalition to deliver the UK’s Net Zero ambition (something we've already seen realised).

Preparations are already well underway for next year’s programme. In the meantime, you can subscribe for updates by joining the For Thought mailing list.

Keep me updated on For Thought



Community Engagement

Over the past six years, we’ve been developing a series of programmes to support community organisations working with groups that are underrepresented in science. 

What started as a pilot to enable more people to run events during British Science Week six years ago, has since grown into a unique, grassroots network supporting hundreds of community groups each year.

In 2021 alone, we welcomed a new cohort of Community Leaders, matched new Community Buddy pairs, awarded grants to hundreds of community groups, grew our Community Engagement Network, and launched a whole new grant scheme – The Highlands and Islands Climate Change Community Grants.

To capture some of this exciting work, in June we published a report showcasing these programmes, giving you a closer look into what's been achieved and our learnings so far.

Read the Community Engagement showcase report


APPG on Diversity and Inclusion in STEM

In July, the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Diversity and Inclusion in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths (STEM), to which the BSA acts as secretariat, published the ‘Equity in the STEM workforce’ report following an eight-month inquiry.

This report includes findings and recommendations for how the Government and organisations employing STEM workers should help to create a diverse and inclusive environment. The inquiry was launched at an online event which you can watch here.

We were delighted to hear that this report formed the basis of the House of Commons Science and Technology’s Committee’s new inquiry into Diversity in STEM. Share your thoughts on underrepresentation in science, research, and industry by sending them your submission. Keep an eye out on our social media for tips on help with your submission.

Join the APPG on Diversity and Inclusion in STEM’s mailing list for updates on the latest inquiry which will be revealed in 2022.

Join the mailing list 



British Science Festival

With over 700 days since we were last celebrating the people, stories and ideas at the heart of science, it felt so good to be back for British Science Festival 2021 – if a little bit surreal.

We celebrated our 191st rodeo with mind-bending performances, immersive experiences, and interactive workshops held between 7-11 September, hosted by Anglia Ruskin University in Chelmsford.

Alongside our new branding, and this being our most sustainable festival yet, British Science Festival 2021 highlights included Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock’s Presidential Address, and BODY, an immersive and interactive installation exploring six different zones of the human body.

Do you have an event idea that celebrates science in the broadest sense? Get involved in next year’s British Science Festival by sending us your event ideas.

See you at De Montfort University, Leicester for British Science Festival 2022

Find out more about the British Science Festival 2022


Our new 10-year strategy

September marked our 190th birthday. The BSA has come a long way since we were first founded, changing our name, our visual identity and refining the purpose of our organisation.

This year - against the backdrop of a global pandemic and the climate emergency - we took the opportunity to reflect on the significance of our current work and focus on what we need to achieve in the next decade as we approach the big 2-0-0.

Our new 10-year strategy builds on the foundations that have been set in recent years, honing our focus and ambitions to better serve the people who have been left behind by science.

Ultimately, we want a future where science is more relevant, representative and connected to society.

Looking ahead, we hope to build on the successes of our current programmes, as well as develop new ones, to achieve this. 

Find out more



The Ideas Fund

This year, we launched ‘The Ideas Fund’, a grants programme enabling communities to think about, develop, and test ideas to help improve mental wellbeing.

The Fund is designed to help people tackle problems that matter to them by connecting them with research professionals and providing funding to bring their ideas to life.

Towards the end of this year, we were delighted to announce that 42 projects were selected to receive funding through The Ideas Fund.

The projects selected made use of sports, nature, and nutrition to tackle issues faced by a whole range of communities and backgrounds. Early-stage grants have received up to £25,000 each with more developed ideas awarded around £90,000 to support them.

You can stay updated on the progress of these projects by registering for updates, and following The Ideas Fund on Twitter and Facebook too!

Explore The Ideas Fund website


CREST Awards

It has been another great year for our CREST Awards programme!

Throughout 2021, we’ve been busy creating a range of new and exciting resources which are, as always, free to access and download at the CREST resource library.

From exploring the hydrological impact of climate change, to a CREST question generator – there are plenty of new resources for curious minds to get stuck in to.

We also offered additional support to teachers and education specialists throughout this turbulent year by developing free tools and guides, including a primary and secondary curriculum mapping tool resource, and expanded the content in our CREST Awards webinar centre with more videos on CREST-related topics.

Follow CREST Awards on Twitter 

Thank you for taking the time to go through the British Science Association’s wrap-up of 2021. We cannot wait to share what we have in store for 2022…