There are too many funding organisations out there to list, but we will look at some of the larger funders that support biology, chemistry and physics. In particular, funders with programmes that are available to schools are given, along with their most appropriate grant scheme.
The Wellcome Trust
Background: The Wellcome Trust is the UK's largest charity. It supports biomedical research that aims to improve the health of humans and animals. Each year the Wellcome Trust provides over half a billion pounds of support to research and also public engagement surrounding biomedical research.
Traditionally, the Trust has tended to support dedicated science public engagement organisations (such as science centres) and universities. However, they are keen to fund schools, provided that the schools fulfil certain criteria.
Most appropriate grant: 'People' award scheme
Details: Schools are most likely to be supported through the Trust's 'People' awards. These provide between £1,000 and £30,000 of financial support for innovative projects that are likely to have a large impact. Due to the level of support on offer, the Trust prefers to support collaborations, either with other schools or with universities, scientists or artists. A project that runs for a whole year and involves a number of local secondary schools will be of more interest to the Trust than a project by one school that lasts one week and doesn't extend beyond the school gates.
The 'People' award scheme is for grants between £1,000 and £30,000. Grant applications should be innovative and try to include arts-based approaches to science. Projects should be ambitious and should look to be over a longer period of time (at least one term).
Background: The Biochemical Society promotes the advancement of the molecular biosciences, representing the interests of all those working in the sector.
Most appropriate grant: Scientific Outreach Grant
Details: Grant of up to £1,000 for 'scientific outreach events' around the area of molecular bioscience. In practice, this includes projects that schools might like to undertake. The grant is intended to cover costs that would not normally be covered as part of a school's normal operation. The Society is keen to support multi-partner projects where possible and will look favourably upon such applications.
Background: The Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) is the largest organisation in Europe for advancing the chemical sciences. Supported by a worldwide network of members and an international publishing business, their activities span education, conferences, science policy and the promotion of chemistry to the public.
Most appropriate grant: Education Initiatives Fund
Details: This grant provides up to £1,000 of support for 'novel educational activities', so it will not simply support existing activities. Application is via email or post, but does not require an application form (you should still make sure you include all the information that would be on a 'standard' application form, as discussed in 'Writing to funding bodies').
The RSC also has a range of other initiatives to support schools teaching of chemistry. These are well worth investigating further.
The Science and Technology Facilities Council/ Institute of Physics
Area of support: Physics
Background: The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) is one of the Research Councils, while the Institute of Physics (IoP) is a Learned Society. STFC's main remit is to support scientific research, particularly into astronomy, particle physics, space science and nuclear physics. However, STFC also does excellent public engagement work and supports a large number of initiatives ranging from small grants supporting trips to science centres, to large grants allowing schools to create cosmic ray detectors!
The IoP aims to increase the practice, understanding and application of physics. The Institute is committed to improving physics education in schools and colleges and provides the 'schools grants scheme' in conjunction with STFC to help achieve this.
Most appropriate grants: 'Schools grants scheme' or ' Small awards scheme'
Details: The 'schools grants scheme' is a joint initiative between the STFC and IoP designed specifically for schools and colleges. Grants of up to £500, which support "small-scale projects or events linked to the teaching or promotion of physics", are available from the scheme.
STFC also provides another grant scheme that provides a greater level of financial support - the Science in Society Small Awards Scheme. This scheme provides grants between £500 and £10,000 and is available for more ambitious projects.
Background: The Royal Academy of Engineering is a Learned Society that supports engineering research and public engagement. Their public engagement grant scheme, 'Ingenious' is particularly good. However, a key condition is that 'active' engineers must be involved in any project supported by the scheme. You therefore need to have contacts with an engineering organisation so that you can get engineers on-board before you submit your proposal.
Most appropriate grant: 'Ingenious' award scheme
Details: This is a 'public engagement' grant, designed at getting real-life engineers to communicate their work to the public. However, 'the public' has a very broad remit and could certainly include school pupils. Schools can therefore apply, provided that they have an innovative project that engages engineers.
Background: There are seven Research Councils which, between them, invest around £2.8 billion into research in all academic disciplines. 'Research Councils UK' (RCUK) is a strategic partnership between all seven of the Councils, aimed at helping the Councils work together more effectively.
With the exception of STFC (discussed above), the other Councils tend not to provide direct financial support to schools. However, both the Councils and RCUK do have schemes to help support science education in schools.
Most appropriate grant: RCUK does not have specific grant schemes for schools and nor do most of the individual Research Councils.
Details: Although grants are not available, the Research Councils and RCUK are keen to support science education in schools and have a number of excellent initiatives that are worth investigating.