Community Learning and Development. What's STEM got to do with it?
Konstantinos Minas – Aberdeen Science Centre. United Kingdom
Sue Briggs – Community Learning and Development, Aberdeenshire Council United Kingdom
Linda Clark – Aberdeen City Council United Kingdom
Avril Morrison – Community Learning and Development, Aberdeenshire Council United Kingdom
Craig Singer – Aberdeen City Council United Kingdom
Inspiring "hard to reach" communities to engage with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) is a challenge our team has faced since our opening in 1989. Interactive, fun and educational science engagements are a good start, but they still don't change the opinions of people that do not associate themselves with Aberdeen Science Centre, or STEM in general. Our recent partnership with the CLD (Community Learning and Development) teams of Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire appears to be changing this trend. We started by increasing the confidence of practitioners to engage with STEM, in a way relevant to their attitudes and aspirations. By empowering practitioners, we witnessed STEM being proactively incorporated in their practice, and in turn, community interest heightened. It is only through influencing the influencers that this change was possible, and through longitudinal evaluations, we now see evidence of science spreading in Aberdeen City and Shire and inspiring communities. These observations were only made possible by collaborative working, and the lessons learnt now shape STEM delivery in our local area. Together, we have facilitated a change where community leaders are empowered to implement science learning in their practice, in a way that makes it relevant, interesting, and ultimately fun for their learners. It is only through meaningful engagements with STEM that we make the best personal choices and become greener, smarter, more responsible citizens. Aberdeen Science Centre's team in turn, is now better equipped to engage local communities in learning, and to bring about positive change to people and communities. The lessons learnt from this collaboration were many, and we are now looking into the future and all the positive changes that this collaboration can bring in our local area and in the sector of science communication as a whole.
The author has not yet submitted a copy of the full paper.