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Curiosity, a £2.5 million partnership between BBC Children in Need and  Wellcome,  focuses on improving the lives of children and young people experiencing disadvantage, through participation in out of school science activities.

Curiosity is in its second and final round of funding. After a first round which funded 32 projects in late 2020, the partners committed £1,676,947 to 25 projects throughout the UK. These exciting projects will deliver inspiring science activities that will help children and young people develop new skills and build their confidence. Projects encourage young people to be curious about themselves and the world around them and, in doing this, change how they interact with science.

We are delighted to be awarding funding to projects through our Curiosity programme. We hope that through this latest round of funding children and young people will have more opportunities to encounter, learn and enjoy science in their everyday lives.

Simon Antrobus, Chief Executive of BBC Children in Need

What we’ve learned so far

Our first set of funded projects, 32 at £291, 533 showed us that opportunities to engage with science informally can make a positive difference to the lives of children and young people experiencing disadvantage.

Key findings:

  • Like sports and arts activities, informal science activities can support disadvantaged young people’s personal and social development.
  • The approaches and skills needed to engage disadvantaged young people in science – such as facilitation, exploration and variety – are similar to those needed to engage them in other youth work activities.
  • Most young people participating in Curiosity round 1 projects experienced positive differences which contributed to  at least one of our seven building blocks including improved essential skills and self-belief.
  • There is evidence that informal science activities could have a unique role to play in youth work. This is because they:
    • allow young people to try things, fail and try again, which stretches them and  youth workers in new ways
    • provide new opportunities for youth workers to open up a dialogue with disadvantaged young people, so they can support them with other issues.
  • Other positive outcomes for young people who take part in informal science learning activities include:
    • improved peer relationships and the ability to value other people’s differences
    • better problem-solving skills
    • new career aspirations
    • improved communication with parents.

In a science-dependent world, it is essential that young people see science as a vital tool they can use in their lives – and do not face barriers to engage with it. In addition to supporting disadvantaged young people, this initiative will help us to better understand the role science can play in youth programmes.

Dr Anita Krishnamurthi, Head of Education and Learning at Wellcome

What’s next

We know that engaging with science in an informal setting can support the development of children and young people. For the next three years, Curiosity aims to use these initial learnings as a launching off point – to further explore the unique role we think science can play in creating change for children and young people who experience disadvantage. We want to do that in partnership with the youth sector, with children and young people, science communicators, and science institutions across the UK.

If you have any questions about the programme, please don’t hesitate to contact [email protected]

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