The Abercorn Science Club
The Abercorn Secondary School Science Club is an example of the inclusive community and public engagement that is prioritised in the University of Glasgow, Knowledge Exchange and Innovation Strategy 2017-2021. But it's not public engagement as we currently know it.
This is the fourth year that Abercorn Secondary School and the Learning Disabilities group in Mental Health and Wellbeing have worked together on an extracurricular Science Club for pupils in S1-S5. The young people and teachers at Abercorn have always rated the Science Club highly, which supports the development of knowledge and skills relevant to the Sciences and Technologies theme in the Curriculum for Excellence. From our perspective, working alongside teachers at Abercorn and young people with additional support needs has informed our research and the Science Club has provided has provided an important opportunity for PhD students and ECRs to develop skills that are relevant to our research.
Therefore, the Abercorn Science Club is an example of the two way sharing of knowledge, skills and resources that ought to be at the heart of public engagement. However, it is not about communicating our research findings to the young people at Abercorn and their families. Instead, the club has been based around Lego robots, Minecraft Education and a Code Academy model, where the young people design their own computer game using an open access platform, called Kodu. So, we have often questioned whether it fits into any existing model of public engagement in secondary schools. Probably not, however, we believe it is an example of the sort of innovative model of community engagement that is called for in the Knowledge Exchange and Innovation Strategy.
The Abercorn Science Club is probably one of many different models of public engagement in use across IHW. Our Institute should aim to play a key part in ensuring that inclusive community and public engagement is central to research at the University of Glasgow.
First published: 24 November 2017