It is important to celebrate our passions from a young age – and British Science Week is a fantastic opportunity for budding scientists to share their joy for the subject. Just last week, schools across the UK honed their focus on all things scientific. The aim? To inspire the doctors, physicists and astronomers of the future!
What is British Science Week?
British Science Week is “a ten-day long celebration of science, technology, engineering and maths”. This collection of subjects, otherwise known as STEM, are united by their technical nature (here’s to all the left side-brainers out there!). British Science Week provides the opportunity for schools, community groups and families to get involved with the week-long scientific extravaganza. One of the key things about British Science Weeks is its accessibility for all; there are free activity packs available for students, teachers and parents alike to download, and a plethora of events and activities to take part in across the week – most of which are online. Every year, the occasion has a specific theme. Taking place just last week (10th – 19th March), British Science Week 2023 revolved around ‘connections’. Now, this doesn’t just refer to chemical bonding and electric circuits, but more so the connections between people within STEM industries.
The last few years have been incredibly isolating for many. The Covid-19 pandemic forced the nation into lockdown, followed by a high-anxiety, socially-distanced reality. However, nationwide events such as British Science Week aim to inspire ‘togetherness’ in the aftermath of the pandemic. It’s safe to say that the years spent oscillating between lockdown and almost-lockdown has enhanced the need for human connection more than ever! What’s more, connections are the foundation of STEM subjects. From students to scientists, and from research groups to institutions, innovation in the scientific and technological world ‘STEMS’ from collaboration. After all, team work makes the dream work! Likewise, British Science Week celebrates students of all ages – and their own personal connection to science, whilst also providing the opportunity for entire communities to connect through their passion for the subjects. Next up, we’re going to take a closer look at one of British Science Week’s main campaigns – and why it is so important in 2023.
The 2023 Smashing Stereotypes Campaign
‘Smashing Stereotypes’ is a collection of 40+ stories which defy the long-standing stereotypes within the scientific field. Even in today’s social media-dominated age, the vast majority of STEM-related GIFs and memes showcase Albert Einstein: the poster boy of science. It is, therefore, no surprise that, when asked what a scientist looks like, most people would naturally reel off Einstein-like traits: later in life, white and male. Now, there’s no disputing the iconic status of scientists like Einstein and Newton; however, such stereotypes have led to many young people believing that the world of science isn’t a place for them. British Science Week aims to rewrite this narrative, and show students across the UK that there are thriving professionals within STEM industries who look like them, and who have had similar life experiences. It is of utmost importance that young people have role models who they can specifically relate to; this makes their goals feel far more tangible and reachable.
Diversity and inclusion have always been important, yet awareness of the inequalities plaguing our society has increased tenfold in the last few years. We’re also realising that ‘being aware’ isn’t enough – we must also be active in finding solutions and inspiring positive change. The main goal of ‘Smashing Stereotypes’ is to “encourage more young people, from all backgrounds, to see themselves as scientists.” In 2023, this is a message which needs to be further amplified across the education system.
The stories that have been shared in ‘Smashing Stereotypes’ this year focus on UK-based STEM professionals who “break the mould”: either by coming from an underrepresented background, or by “thinking outside the box” in their STEM vocation. Moral of the story: the sky’s the limit in STEM – no matter who you are, or where you come from.