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The role of informal science in youth work: findings from Curiosity round one

'Curiosity' provides funding to help youth organisations develop and deliver inspiring science activities for disadvantaged children and young people. It is a partnership between BBC Children in Need and Wellcome.

This report looks at the key findings from the 32 projects funded during the first round. 

What's inside?

  • facts, figures and case studies on how taking part in informal science activities can make a difference to disadvantaged children and young people

Who this is for

  • UK youth workers and youth sector organisations 
  • informal science organisations, including museum and science centres
  • anyone interested in working with disadvantaged children and young people

Key findings

  • Like sports and arts activities, informal science activities can support disadvantaged young people’s personal and social development.
  • The approaches and skills needed to engage disadvantaged young people in science – such as facilitation, exploration and variety – are similar to those needed to engage them in other youth work activities.  
  • Most young people participating in Curiosity round 1 projects made significant progress against at least one of Children in Need’s seven building blocks, including improved essential skills and self-belief. 
  • There is evidence that informal science activities could have a unique role to play in youth work. This is because they:
    • allow young people to try things, fail and try again, which stretches them and the youth workers in new ways
    • provide new opportunities for youth workers to open up a dialogue with disadvantaged young people, so they can support them with other issues. 
  • Other positive outcomes for young people who take part in informal science learning activities include:
    • improved peer relationships and the ability to value other people's differences 
    • better problem-solving skills
    • new career aspirations
    • improved communication with parents. 
"The principles of youth work are exploratory and facilitative. Youth workers have harnessed these skills in delivering science activities where they and the young people have explored and learned together. Any discomfort about not being ‘the expert in the room’ needs to be suspended, but our findings indicate this isn’t a problem."