‘Science and discovery centres contribute to effective science education for young people and play an important role in public engagement, and should be eligible for Government support’.
This is the conclusion of a report by the Science and Technology Select Committee published today.
The report says:
‘…We have been impressed by the range of subjects tackled by science centres, their commitment to education and public engagement and the role that they play in their local communities. The financial struggles that science centres have faced and continue to face are equalled only by the unrelenting enthusiasm of the members of the science centre community.’
This is the first time a select committee has looked at the role of science centres, and it concludes that they energetically engage the public in science and are worthy of support. The Science centres now have a clear way forward and will capitalise further on this opportunity to support both curriculum-based and lifelong learning.
The Association for Science and Discovery Centres, the body that represents these science centres, warmly welcomes the Select Committee’s report.
Dr Nick Winterbotham, chairman of The Association for Science and Discovery Centres and CEO of Thinktank, Birmingham's science museum, said:
"This report is precisely the shot in the arm that UK science needs. Ministers should now recognise what an ally they have in the nation's new phenomenon of science centres.
"For more than two decades, they have been giving families and schoolchildren a real taste of hands-on and minds-on science. Thanks to this report, we can look forward to a time when every child in the UK will be given the opportunity to fire their imagination in a science centre.”
Dr Penny Fidler, the director of The Association for Science and Discovery Centres adds:
“The UK has a proud history of scientific innovation and now more than ever we will rely on scientific entrepreneurship to solve some of the major challenges our society faces, from climate change to public health. As this report highlights, the science centres and museums are already taking centre stage in the dialogue between scientists and the public. This will have an increasingly important role as we, as a society, strive to address these pressing issues.
“This report represents a vital step forward for the UK’s science centres. They have learnt important lessons and as a new and vibrant sector are now joining forces to bring science to more and more people.
“It is to the select committee’s credit that they have recognised the powerful learning resource that science centres represent.”
Caroline Durbin, Press officer (representing The Association for Science and Discovery Centres), as part of Thinktank, Birmingham
07707 531 405
The following spokespeople are available for further comments and interviews
Dr Nick Winterbotham – Chair of The Association for Science and Discovery Centres and CEO Thinktank & Millennium Point
07775 774 539
Dr Penny Fidler, Director of The Association for Science and Discovery Centres
07791 554 029
Linda Conlon, Chief Executive, Centre for Life, Newcastle
Linda is the former chair of The Association for Science and Discovery Centres and presented the work of the science centres to the House of Commons Select Committee on July 11th, 07887 745 561
Phil Winfield, Director of INTECH Science & Discovery Centre, Winchester
Phil also represented the role of the science centres at the House of Commons Select Committee on July 11th, 07890 909 969
Notes to editor:
The UK science centres attract over 17 million visitors each year.
Last year over 3 million school children visited a science centre on a school visit. Many take part in special workshops targeted specifically at their Key Stage to inspire them with science, technology, engineering and maths.
The majority of science centres are charities, relying on fundraising, sponsorship and partnerships. Most also host weddings, birthday parties and corporate events for additional income.
The Association for Science and Discovery Centres represents the interests of more than 50 science centres, science museums and discovery centres in the UK
The Association for Science and Discovery Centres was set up in 2001 to give the expanding sector a strong national voice. They aim to raise the profile of science centres and to establish their role as a forum for dialogue between science specialists and the public whilst offering the centres as an informal resource for learners of all ages.
To find your nearest science centre, go to www.sciencecentres.org.uk/centres/ and click on the map.
The full report, including an executive summary and press release from the science and technology committee can be found at www.sciencecentres.org.uk/press
For more information about The Association for Science and Discovery Centres and our members please contact Dr Penny Fidler or go to www.sciencecentres.org.uk/about/