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insights: science centres © THOMAS AZiZ

Tom Tits Experiment in Sweden offers free workshops to schools to help build the science capital of local children and their teachers

getting engaged Science museums and centres across Europe are embracing science capital to help develop more inclusive and integrated learning opportunities for all visitors. Dr Amy Seakins and Dr Heather King tell us how


cience capital can be seen as the bag of science-related knowledge, experience and attitudes that you carry throughout life – what you know about science, how you think about science, what you do, and who you know. This concept is being adopted by a growing number of science engagement organisations and educational policymakers as a way to (re)think what we might do to improve people’s engagement with science. Our research explains why some students feel unable to identify with science and highlights the need to reflect on how institutions provide experiences that resonate with visitors’ varied personal lives. The concept of science capital draws from the work of French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, who coined the notion of


Science capital can help us to think creatively about how to improve everyone’s engagement with science capital – the social, cultural and symbolic resources that individuals variously possess to ‘get on’ in life. Science capital is a form of capital that combines all the science-related social and cultural resources that Bourdieu defined. By analysing a series of surveys carried out in the UK*, we’ve identified a distinct


relationship between a young person’s aspirations towards science and their science capital: just five per cent have high science capital and are more likely to continue with science post compulsory schooling; 69 per cent have medium science capital; but more than a quarter (27 per cent) have low science capital – the least likely to take science-related qualifications or a science-related career. Importantly, the construct of science capital tells us more than who might aspire to a science-related career. It helps us understand why for some young people, science is not for them. It can also help us to think creatively and effectively about what we might do to improve everyone’s engagement with science within our sites and spaces.

Attractions Handbook 2017-2018  
Attractions Handbook 2017-2018  

The global resource for attractions professionals