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Opportunities for Researchers

The Research Councils fund a variety of activities, resources and grant schemes to provide opportunities for researchers to engage with the public.

RCUK Initiatives:

Public Engagement Opportunities with Schools and Young People:

The Research Councils collectively support and fund a range of activities, resources and schemes to inspire young people by bringing researchers with schools and young people together.

Teacher CPD - Bringing Cutting Edge Science into the Classroom:
RCUK’s Teacher CPD programme is designed to help secondary school teachers deliver some of the more challenging aspects of the curriculum in a way that captures and retains the interest of their pupils. It is also designed to support teachers’ development of specialist knowledge and to facilitate links between teachers and contemporary research.

Nuffield Research Placements (previously Nuffield Science Bursaries):
Nuffield Research Placements provide over 1000 students each year with the opportunity to work alongside professional scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians.

Researcher Career Case Studies:
Aimed at young people, parents and teachers, RCUK Careers in Research hosts an online suite of career case studies which provide an insight about life as a researcher and the different career paths which researchers’ take. The case studies feature researchers from all seven Research Councils and cover a broad range of disciplines. If you would like to contribute a case study, please contact Further opportunities are listed on our Schools and Young People’s page.

Funding Opportunities:

Public Engagement as a Pathway to Impact:
Researchers are encouraged to actively think about the pathways for realising the potential impact of their research within Research Council grant applications as part of their Pathways to impact. This can include public engagement activities which are project specific and could contribute to generating impact from the research proposed. Applicants can request resources for these activities.

Past RCUK Initiatives:

Research Councils UK provided opportunities for researchers to engage with non-specialist audiences by working in partnership with expert deliverers such as the mass media, science centres and festivals across the UK including the Bristol Festival of Nature and the Green Man festival in 2012.

Cutting Edge 2012:
The Research Behind Sport: Cutting Edge 2012 was a Research Councils UK initiative, in partnership with the Royal Institution, the Department for Innovation and Skills, The Institute of Engineering and Technology and PODIUM (the Further and Higher Education Unit for the 2012 Games). Throughout 2012, world-class researchers and top Team GB stars, in six locations across the UK, gave amazing athletic demonstrations, discussed elite performance and gathered public views on the research behind the UK’s sporting achievements. Watch the events here.

Knowing Sport:
Knowing Sport was the public engagement programme of the International Convention on Science Education and Medicine in Sport (ICSEMIS). A pilot grant scheme was funded by RCUK and administered by Podium, the Further and Higher Education Unit for the 2012 Games, was established as part of the Knowing Sport programme and awarded the official Inspired by London 2012 mark. Ten grants of up to £1,000 were awarded to HEIs to run events aimed at engaging the public with the research behind the sport.

Individual Research Council Initiatives:

Public Engagement Opportunities with Schools and Young People:

Each Research Council has its own range of activities and schemes. Some Research Councils also offer resources for primary school age students. Some Research Councils have a schools section on their website with further details. Please use the links below to find out more.

Funding Opportunities:

STFC Small Awards:
This provides funds for small, local or "pilot" projects promoting science in the STFC funded areas. Awards range from £500 to £10,000.

STFC Large Awards:
Grants of up to £100,000 for Public Engagement projects which have strong links with STFC's scientific research community.

Training Opportunities:

BBSRC Media Training Course:
This course provides an introduction to the media and how to use it to promote science. The course is tailor-made for scientists working on BBSRC science and follows a bespoke programme created by their media office. The course is aimed at scientists with limited, or no experience of working with the media, although it can be valuable practice for researchers who have already dealt extensively with the media.

BBSRC Public Engagement Training Course:
This course aims to inspire and support researchers to carry out effective public engagement that reflects upon the social and ethical perspectives of their work. By taking part, participants will develop an understanding of what public engagement is, why it is important, the skills required, the broader context of their work and a deeper empathy with public values, views, concerns and aspirations. In addition, participants will develop an awareness of the social and ethical issues that might be raised in the context of their research and how to engage with the public in relation to those issues.

NERC Public Engagement Training Course:
This free course is for NERC funded students and researchers to develop science communication and public engagement skills. It course deals with written journalism, radio and designing public engagement activities. The course runs approximately six times a year at the NERC office in Swindon.

Royal Society Media Training Course:
This course takes scientists with a basic knowledge of the media and develops their communication skills. It deals with radio, TV, and written journalism, and is held four times a year. The course is run by The Royal Society, and is open to all, although researchers from STFC and EPSRC may be able to apply for bursaries to attend.

Royal Society Communication Skills Training:
This course for scientists aims to offer them the skills to communicate their science on a non- technical level to different audiences. It is run by the Royal Society and takes place four times a year. Open to all, although researchers from STFC and EPSRC may be able to apply for bursaries to attend.

NCCPE Train the Trainer: Beginners’ Guide to Evaluation:
The National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement has developed courses to support HE STEM practitioners to develop their evaluation work

Other Initiatives:

The British Science Association's CREST is a nationally recognised accreditation scheme for project work in the fields of science, technology, engineering and maths. Aimed at students aged 11-19, CREST awards encourage students to develop their scientific curiosity, problem-solving and communication skills.

STEM Ambassadors:
The STEM Ambassadors is a volunteer role model programme, linking those with expertise and passion for STEM subjects (science, engineering, technology and maths) with young people across the country.

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