Observing. Collecting evidence. Testing. Applying logic. Analysing data. All the words in this list describe things that scientists do. However, if you love the arts, sports, or humanities, then this list of words might sound a bit scary or just dull. You are more likely to identify with another list: creativity, innovation, discussion, experimentation. But did you know that this second list applies to scientists too?
Science uptake in schools and universities is currently experiencing a dramatic downturn. Researchers at Durham University and science educators at the UK’s Life Science Centre in Newcastle-upon-Tyne suspect one reason for this might be that forms of enquiry like creativity and innovation are not as heavily encouraged in STEM subjects. Developed at the Centre for Life are engaging activities in order to improve people’s confidence around science, their understanding of the scientific approach, and their appreciation of the results of scientific enquiry.
This research project is investigating whether engagement with science improves when innovation and creativity is at the heart of science education. In order to test this, Durham University’s researchers have worked with practitioners from the Centre for Life and with designers to form a multi-disciplinary team to co-produce exhibits, which enhance creativity, innovation and scientific thinking. Together, we have iteratively developed a new exhibit pod – specifically to encourage creativity and innovation, and to allow the research team to measure it. The Interactive Research Pod hosting the experiments is on the floor in the Brain Zone, a new gallery at the Centre.