Science capital goes north!

By Jessie Mytum-Smithson

About: Jessie Mytum-Smithson is the Enterprising Science Coordinator, based at the National STEM Learning Centre.


In 2015-16 the focus was on London schools, but this year science capital has been rolled out to the North of England. We are working with 4 different schools and 16 teachers on tweaking their lessons to help build their students’ science capital.

The King’s College London team came to meet with the teachers at the National STEM Learning Centre in York for training on science capital. It was described by one of the teachers as “the best, most fun training I’ve received”. Through role plays and discussions we sent the teachers away with an idea of what science capital was and how to apply it to lessons without totally rewriting their scheme of learning. Continue reading

New book ‘Understanding Young People’s Science Aspirations’

Understanding Young People’s Science Aspirations is a new book based on the findings of the first phase of our sister project ASPIRES. This book is written by two of the Enterprising Science team members, Professor Louise Archer and Dr. Jennifer DeWitt. This book offers new evidence and understanding about how young people develop their aspirations for education, learning and, ultimately, careers in science. Integrating findings from ASPIRES with a wide ranging review of existing international literature, it brings a distinctive sociological analytic lens to the field of science education.

The book offers an explanation of how some young people do become dedicated to follow science, and what might be done to increase and broaden this population, exploring the need for increased scientific literacy among citizens to enable them to exercise agency and lead a life underpinned by informed decisions about their own health and their environment. Key issues considered include:

  • why we should study young people’s science aspirations
  • the role of families, social class and science capital in career choice
  • the links between ethnicity, gender and science aspirations
  • the implications for research, policy and practice.

For more information on ASPIRES and the second phase ASPIRES2, please visit the project website here

Science capital building in the classroom – A teacher’s view

By Philip Emwangat

About: Philip Emwangat is a science teacher in an inner London secondary school. He participated in the Enterprising Science project during 2015-2016.

As a science teacher, I want my students to be able to see that science knowledge and skills are valuable for many aspects of their lives, whether they are considering a science-related career or not. Many of them struggle to see how school science relates to their lives outside school. I believe that taking a science capital approach to my teaching has helped me to bring students’ everyday experiences into the science classroom, which in turn has enabled students to gain a broader view of what science entails and why science is useful and relevant to them. In this blog post, I want to share some of my reflections of incorporating science capital into my teaching.  Continue reading

Science capital building in the classroom – Part 2

By Heather King and Effrosyni Nomikou

Putting the science capital approach into practice

 Adopting a science capital approach does not mean adding new content or new activities to lessons. Rather, it requires a shift in teaching approach – almost like a new mind-set or way of doing things. By framing topics with reference to your students’ prior experiences (in the home, and outside of school), science is made more relevant. By valuing and linking students’ contributions to the science content, students will come to see themselves as more ‘science-y’, and that future study/career in science is a possibility. By addressing more dimensions of science capital throughout lessons – encouraging talk about the topic outside of lessons; promoting science media resources – students will see that science is not ‘other’, but instead an important, intrinsic part of life and, possibly, part of their own identity. Continue reading

Science capital building in the classroom

By Heather King and Effrosyni Nomikou

How do I do it? Sometimes I ask the right sort of question, and the students respond. I just need to figure out when to do it. (Mina, science teacher)

No doubt, we all feel a little like the teacher above!  We want to help build student science capital, but how, and when, should we do this?

In 2015-2016, we worked with a team of partner teachers in different secondary schools across London in a CPD course that aimed to develop teaching practices that help build student science capital. We ran training workshops, observed numerous lessons, tweaked lesson plans, interviewed teachers, and talked to a great number of students in focus groups. Just before we roll out the course to our partner schools in York, Bradford, and Manchester, here we reflect on the emerging principles underpinning a science capital building classroom practice. Continue reading