The project, Science clubs for underprivileged children today, for a more inclusive science in the future is one of the 16 awarded projects within the ‘Science communication’ program of the NWA (Nationale Wetenschaps Agenda).
NWA Grants for Science Clubs For Underprivileged Children
The consortium wants to reduce inequality of opportunity and make science more accessible. With this grant, an amount of €200,000 will be made available to realize the project; inclusive science clubs will be established in several regions of the country, linked to a locally activated ‘learning ecosystem’, targeting potentially disadvantaged children.
“It is fantastic that this subsidy has been awarded. We focus on children who are less naturally exposed to science or who experience that they ‘cannot do science’. These are often children who grow up in less socially privileged situations.”
Researcher Sofia van Santen
With their expertise and networks, science museums can offer very valuable education. The question of how we can reach these children and make them feel welcome has been an issue for some time now. With these clubs, children can ‘do science’, just as they ‘play football’. The children participate in investigative activities in their own neighborhood, supervised by subject matter experts and scientists from the museums and their network. There are also guest lessons during school hours, and activities are organized during school or neighborhood events.
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The club aims to make children enthusiastic about science, showing them the way and letting them experience that science can also be something for them. This is important because more inclusive science education not only leads to more people who want to engage in science, but also to more diversity in people who contribute to the scientific field and thus ultimately a fairer and more inclusive society.
Science clubs are well managed by professional teachers with the help of online resources such as Campai for them to properly manage the club’s funding and monitor the needs of the project.
Learning ecosystems by Leiden University
To ensure that a science club is not an isolated project, a relatively new structure, and approach are used, a so-called ‘learning ecosystem’. Such a ‘learning ecosystem’ connects in-school and out-of-school learning as local institutions such as schools, community centers, libraries, research institutes, and other science museums work together. By connecting learning opportunities and removing barriers, children can always take the next step in their talent development. In Leiden, the Naturalis Biodiversity Center has already started a pilot that is successful and is increasingly embedding itself in the region.