Royal Institution sets out ambitious growth in education outreach

The Royal Institution intends to deliver 250 science shows in schools across the UK over the next 12 months and will nearly double its STEM education grants.

  • man blowing fire in front of school audience

    The Ri's popular Science in Schools show, 'Explosive food'

    Credit: Katherine Leedale

Royal Institution sets out ambitious growth in education outreach

Science charity set to offer free shows for schools and nearly double its science education grants

The Royal Institution (Ri), home of the world famous CHRISTMAS LECTURES, intends to deliver 250 science shows to primary and secondary school children across the UK over the next 12 months, it was announced today; an increase of 75% on the previous year. Seventy-five of the shows will be free to schools in under-served communities, funded by a £60,000 commitment by the independent charity.

At the same time, the Ri will double the number of STEM education grants it awards, having secured £20,000 of additional support provided by LG Harris Trust.

The Ri’s Science in Schools programme takes popular demonstration shows into schools across the UK, accompanied by valuable Continuing Professional Development sessions for teachers. The shows give students, teachers and families a chance to see specially trained presenters in action, delivering science shows inspired by the CHRISTMAS LECTURES. The option to have a community show in the evening encourages support for science outside of the school environment, at a time when research shows that teachers believe support for science in the home is crucial if the UK is to broaden the types of people taking science at a higher educational level.

The Ri’s STEM education grants provide access to services and expertise from the STEM Directories, for schools in under-served communities that might not otherwise be able to afford additional support for their pupils. The Ri awards 50 small grants per year to fund hands on activities that support the curriculum through exploration and experimentation. The £20,000 charitable donation from LG Harris Trust will allow the Ri to nearly double the number of schools it supports, rising from 50 to 90.

Today’s announcement builds on a sustained increase in the Ri’s charitable education work in recent years, most recently at Butlin’s, where its iconic Redcoats, trained by Ri scientists, deliver hands-on scientific exploration to its holiday camp guests. The innovative partnership reaches an audience that might not ordinarily have the opportunity to engage with science outside of the school environment.   

Director of Science and Education at the Ri, Prof. Gail Cardew, said: “We know that cash-strapped schools can struggle to offer more than the basic science curriculum, and that there is often a lack of support for science in the home. If we want to encourage not only the scientists of tomorrow, but also active citizens who feel confident about the place of science in their lives, then we believe that lifelong journey starts best with children.”

Applications for the Ri’s STEM education grants can be made via the Ri website and close on 19 October 2018. Schools awarded the grants will then be eligible for one of the 75 free Science in Schools shows.