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Cross industry partnership to deliver ground breaking UK-wide science learning programme

Release date:
4 July 2013

The Science Museum, BP and King's College London have today launched Enterprising Science, the largest UK-wide science learning programme of its kind.


The five-year partnership will bring together the expertise, experience and research of all three organisations to inspire and engage more young people in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) learning and careers to help ensure that the UK remains at the forefront of science, technology and innovation.


Enterprising Science will build on the success of the Science Museum and BP's previous five year Talk Science project, to develop effective, evidence-based tools and techniques that will bring science to life like never before for young people, their teachers and families, both inside and outside the classroom.


The programme is underpinned by research led by King’s College London as part of their ASPIRES study of children's science and career aspirations. Young people will be at the heart of the project and over 2,000 teachers and up to 400,000 students will be involved in piloting these new resources during programme development.


The Government acknowledges the value of science and engineering to the economy and the programme will help address two key challenges; according to Ipsos MORI (“Issues Facing Britain”, April 2013), the health of the economy and unemployment consistently rank as the top two concerns for people in the UK. It is widely recognised that science education is a key to success in school and beyond.


Through this partnership, Enterprising Science will deliver new ways of engaging young people with science, both in the classroom and more informally, and strengthen their understanding of STEM career opportunities.


David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science, said, “It’s great to see BP, in partnership with the Science Museum and Kings College, committing £4.3 million for teachers and museum educators to increase science capital amongst young people and their families. Working with more than 2,000 teachers and 400,000 pupils over a 5 year period, this initiative will make a vital contribution to continuing the UK’s standing as a leader in research and innovation in science. This will inspire young people and provide greater employment opportunities for them in the future.”


Education Minister Elizabeth Truss said, “Enterprising Science is an innovative programme that will enable more young people to get involved in science, technology, engineering and maths. It will inspire them to become the scientists and innovators of the future.


“Science is key to our economic future – it is these subjects that universities and employers are demanding so they can compete internationally. That is why we are improving the science curriculum, recruiting the brightest science graduates into teaching to inspire their pupils, as well as investing up to £135 million up until 2015 in science and maths education.”


Ian Blatchford, Director, Science Museum, said, “It is testament to the success of the Science Museum’s Talk Science programme that we are now launching the follow up Enterprising Science in partnership with King’s College London and BP. Because we are taking a scientific approach to science education, we know that this new initiative, combined with the inspirational collections across the Science Museum Group, will help inspire a new generation of scientists and engineers.”


Peter Mather, Group Regional Vice President, Europe and Head of Country, UK – BP, said, “BP is delighted to be supporting this new five year, £4.3m Enterprising Science partnership. The UK is the home for BP and we want to help develop and encourage young people with skills in the STEM subjects to look at careers in the oil and gas business, as well as the other STEM-based industries in the UK. We hope this programme will help attract young people to STEM careers in the future.”


Professor Evelyn Welch, Vice Principal (Arts & Sciences) at King's, comments: “This is a vital partnership to develop a thorough understanding of how we can enthuse young children about science at an early stage. King's has been at the forefront of this initiative – researchers in our Department of Education and Professional Studies have been looking at what we can learn from young people's perceptions of science in relation to their career choices at a critical stage in their development. It's exciting that this pivotal work at King's has become the foundation for Enterprising Science, bringing the thrill of scientific discovery to children.”


Enterprising Science is supported by BP who has provided £4.3 million to fund the programme over five years. The project is intended to run from 2013 to 2017, with the first new tools and techniques being implemented by teachers and Museum educators across the UK through the ongoing Talk Science programme by the end of the 2014/15 academic year.

Further information:



Julia Murray, Science Museum Press Office, +44(0)20 7942 4328, Julia.murray@sciencemuseum.ac.uk

Anna Mitchell, King’s College London Press Office, +44(0)20 7848 3092, anna.i.mitchell@kcl.ac.uk

Sheila Williams, BP Press Office, +44(0)20 7496 4851, sheila.williams@bp.com


Notes to Editors:


About the Science Museum


As the home of human ingenuity, the Science Museum’s world-class collection forms an enduring record of scientific, technological and medical achievements from across the globe. Welcoming over 3 million visitors a year, the Museum aims to make sense of the science that shapes our lives, inspiring visitors with iconic objects, award-winning exhibitions and incredible stories of scientific achievement. Visit www.sciencemuseum.org.uk


Quote from Alex Burch, Director of Learning at the Science Museum:


“The Science Museum plays a key role in the knowledge based economy because it’s the most popular free destination for booked education groups in the UK, visited by 400,000 per annum. Each year over 1 million children visit us as part of a school or family visit. Our science learning activities are hugely popular and last year we entertained and informed 384,000 visitors in our free science shows at the Museum. We also run the most popular outreach programme for children, reaching 137,000 children per annum (under 18s).“


About BP plc


BP is of one of the world's leading international oil and gas companies. We operate or market our products in more than 80 countries, employ over 85,000 people and provide our customers with fuel for transportation energy for heating and light, retail services and petrochemicals products for everyday items.


Our interests and activities are covered in two business segments: Exploration and Production, and Refining and Marketing. Exploration and Production’s activities include oil and natural gas exploration; field development and production; hydrocarbon transportation, storage and processing; and the marketing and trading of natural gas including liquefied natural gas (LNG). Refining and Marketing’s activities involve the supply and trading, refining, manufacturing, marketing and transportation of crude oil, petroleum and petrochemicals products. Our activities in low-carbon energy, primarily focussed on biofuels, are managed through our Alternative Energy business.


We have demonstrated our commitment to UK communities over the last 45 years through support for arts and culture and for the education of young people. Find out more about BP in the UK and the BP in the Community programme at bp.com/uk.


About King's College London


King's College London is one of the top 30 universities in the world (2011/12 QS World University Rankings), and the fourth oldest in England. A research-led university based in the heart of London, King's has nearly 23,500 students (of whom more than 9,000 are graduate students) from nearly 140 countries, and some 6,000 employees. King's is in the second phase of a £1 billion redevelopment programme which is transforming its estate.


King's has an outstanding reputation for providing world-class teaching and cutting-edge research. In the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise for British universities, 23 departments were ranked in the top quartile of British universities; over half of our academic staff work in departments that are in the top 10 per cent in the UK in their field and can thus be classed as world leading. The College is in the top seven UK universities for research earnings and has an overall annual income of nearly £450 million.


King's has a particularly distinguished reputation in the humanities, law, the sciences (including a wide range of health areas such as psychiatry, medicine, nursing and dentistry) and social sciences including international affairs. It has played a major role in many of the advances that have shaped modern life, such as the discovery of the structure of DNA and research that led to the development of radio, television, mobile phones and radar.


King's College London and Guy's and St Thomas', King's College Hospital and South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trusts are part of King's Health Partners. King's Health Partners Academic Health Sciences Centre (AHSC) is a pioneering global collaboration between one of the world's leading research-led universities and three of London's most successful NHS Foundation Trusts, including leading teaching hospitals and comprehensive mental health services. For more information, visit: www.kingshealthpartners.org


About Talk Science


BP and the Science Museum have been working together on Talk Science since 2006. Talk Science aims to give secondary science teachers innovative tools and techniques to run contemporary science discussions in the classroom to help give students the confidence to find their own voice and have a say in the way science impacts and shapes their lives. www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/enterprisingscience




The ASPIRES (Science Aspirations and Career Choice) research project is hosted at King’s and led by Louise Archer, Professor of Sociology of Education. The study is tracking children’s science and career aspirations over five years, from ages 10 to 14. It seeks to explore the factors which affect aspirations and engagement with science during this critical period. The research combines a large-scale survey with in-depth interviews to investigate how children form their aspirations and their views of science.


The research follows children in schools across England from Year 6 and to date the team has surveyed over 9000 primary school children and carried out more than 180 interviews of parents and children. After the age of 10 or 11 children’s attitudes towards science often start to decline, suggesting that there is a critical period in which schools and parents can do much to educate the next generation of the options available to them.


Participants were surveyed and interviewed again in Year 8, with over 5600 students and 85 follow up interviews carried out. Phase three is currently under way, due to complete summer 2013. Particular attention has been paid to exploring the interplay of gender, social class, ethnicity and the influence of peers, parents and schools, on young people’s aspirations and engagement with science. The project developed, in collaboration with teachers and other experts, strategies for teaching about science-based careers in Key Stage 3.


A definition of the new tools and techniques that will be developed through the Enterprising Science programme


  • A tool is a physical or virtual resource that can be used by a teacher or museum educator to engage young people with science.
  • A technique is the pedagogical method by which the teacher or museum educator uses the tool effectively.