The British Science Association (BSA) want to support, grow and diversify the community of people who are interested and involved in science. Every year, as part of the British Science Festival (BSF), we do this through our Community Grants programme. 

In 2023, we provided 9 communities with grants of up to £600 to work directly with audiences who are traditionally underrepresented and currently not engaged in science activity. We wanted to empower and support community groups to run their own science activities as part of the British Science Festival, enabling new local audiences to engage with science.  

We also partnered with Exeter Science Centre to provide support to applicants as they prepared their applications. They also helped in selecting the successful applicants and supported successful grant awardees in developing and delivering their projects. You can find out more about their experience here. 

The Community Grant holders and their resulting projects were a true highlight of the festival - you can read more about some of them in their own words via the blog links below.

The Mossy Carpet with Art and Energy CIC

Art and Energy CIC ran 4 workshops with people from the Exeter Diocese Network of Churches across Devon, to look closely at mosses and discover the vital roles that they play in responding to the climate and ecological emergencies. Participants contributed to the big Mossy Carpet artwork that they are creating! 

“What a special day! Space to stop and reflect on our faith and the #ClimateEmergency , and be totally inspired by moss! Talking about eco-anxiety and how we still find hope in the power of small actions #BeMoreMoss”  Feedback from participant via X (formerly Twitter) 

You can read the blog post they created summarising their experience here.

Planets and Stars with CoLab

CoLab ran two workshops for their members on the theme of Planets and Stars, guided by academics in the University of Exeter’s Astrophysics Group. During these workshops, the participants found out about local research and broader topics in astrophysics and astronomy, whilst carrying out creative activities with space-themed refreshments. 

“Many of the individuals who use our service might not have had positive experiences at school, a significant number have experienced homelessness. Workshops like these are a much-needed way of re-engaging individuals in learning and demonstrate that whatever your background, many of us are fascinated by the marvellous universe and our place within it.” Mark Duckworth - Community Ambassador, CoLab Exeter 

You can read the blog post summarising their experience here.

History beneath our school with Interwoven productions CIC 

Interwoven Productions CIC worked with Chestnut Nursery and Wynstream Primary School to engage families in the Wonford area with a community-led landscape/heritage project. When the school site was re-developed in 2005 archaeologists identified Bronze Age and Iron Age ditches plus a range of artefacts from different ages. Children and their families explored the science of remote sensing archaeology through the history of their local area. 

“It was brilliant because seeing the artefacts, it was really a great opportunity to see this personally and hold it in our hands. It gave us boosebumps because if you think about it, its quite a history really, beyond your imagination.Feedback from participant during event.

You can read the blog post summarising their experience here.  

Hacking toys with Makeshift CIC  

Makeshift CIC ran a workshop for women to help introduce them to electronics in a fun, unusual way; by hacking children’s toys in a process known as ‘circuit bending’. The aim was to create unique musical instruments and sound generators, whilst learning about electrical circuits and how sound is generated electronically. 

“Free, non-judgemental and ... no formal expectations; simply an exploration of fun and some understanding for future development” An excerpt from the Makeshift CIC zine 

You can read a zine summarising their experience here.

Making belongings with Makeshift Cultural Lab & Devon Ukrainian Association 

Maketank Cultural Lab & Devon Ukrainian Association organised a 2.5 day workshop with young Ukrainian women currently living in Exeter, to envision the future of the city by introducing them to behavioural science and placemaking. They learnt how to identify the physical and cultural aspects of places to design meaningful solutions that can strengthen a sense of identity, access, and ownership of a place. 

“This experience has opened up a world of possibilities for me I didn't know existed before.” Feedback from participant during event

You can read a blog post summarising their experience here.

Cameraless photography with the Positive Lights Project

Positive Light Projects ran a day of experimental cameraless photography workshops for the general public. Working in their brand new darkroom, they covered a range of analogue photographic techniques and alternative processes, including photograms, chemigrams, anthotypes, lumen prints and cyanotypes. 

“There is nothing quite like the magic and spectacle of exposing light to what looks like a blank sheet of paper and then watching as it transforms into a totally unique piece of art in front of your eyes!” Brendan Barry, Positive Lights Project 

You can read a blog post summarising their experience here.

Climate exploration with The Pelican Project and Exeter Science Centre 

The Pelican Project Exeter CIC worked with Ruth MacLaren of Sciencedipity, to organise a workshop for its members in response to Exeter Science Centre’s Climate Exhibition that they visited during the British Science Festival. 

The British Science Festival brought our members to previously unchartered corners of the community, working along scientists for the first time, recognising them as important stakeholders in the science community Charlie Robinson, Pelican Project Exeter CIC 

You can watch the video summarising their experience here.

Exeter Tomato Festival with Exeter Seed Bank 

Seed-Exe-Change (Exeter Seed Bank)organised the first ever Exeter Tomato Festival (ETF) for the general public, promoting tomato diversity and seed saving. They demonstrated seed saving and the fermentation process that is part of saving tomato seeds, whilst highlighting the science of taste, and encouraging people to grow-their-own. 

“The tomato festival is fantastic as it really is educational and we’d really like to educate people a little bit more about food”  Feedback from the event organisers

You can read a blog post summarising their experience here.

The British Science Festival 2024 Community Grants Programme is now open for applications - find out more including how to apply here.