COVID19 lockdown measures have been implemented in more than 160 countries worldwide, affecting lives of billions of people. Schools will remain closed for months, and pupils around the globe are missing the practical and interactive aspect of learning. In particular, it will be impacting STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects, where learning is activity-focused. Furthermore, background of families further may limit their access to scientific activities, materials, or their ability to explain and demonstrate. This would further widen the gap in interest and uptake of STEM between socioeconomic groups.
The Scientist Next Door project aims to support families by creating a new inclusive culture and learning science together. The website www.scientist-next-door.org is a platform to provide interesting materials, experiments and to organise calls. Families can participate in video-calls around a topic of their interest with a group of scientists, and ask them questions and do experiments together, guided or demonstrated by scientists.
Three children doing an experiment supervised by scientists during a call.
The goal of this project is to give support to families during the lockdown, to share our passion for science, to show it is everywhere and fun! We also want children to interact with real scientists, and through this to develop their own science connections, that is one of the critical components influencing their future. Through this project we hope to lower the barriers for the students from least advantaged backgrounds in pursuing their aspirations in science.
The project was started by a small group of researchers from the Universities of Edinburgh and Durham. In the four weeks of its existence, over sixty scientists from around the world have joined - see who we are and what we do.
Over 30 families from UK and abroad have already joined Scientist Next Door. And we are having calls every day. Scientists generate ad hoc material for each call to meet the curiosity of the children and their families. This new material can be then found on the project website. Families and their children are enthusiastic about the activities proposed during the calls, while scientists are thrilled to have the opportunity to share their passion for science and try some experiments while away from the lab.
Lynne Regan and Alessia Lepore are having a lot of fun preparing and doing activities on DNA. They used “the DNA code” to write names, rolled their tongue to check if they have common genes, and designed a dog using a “DNA recipe”.
A scientist is doing a live demo of a lemon battery experiment during a call with children.
Do you also want to have fun? You can find the instructions for the experiments we have done on our website under DISCUSSIONS or even better join Scientist Next Door!
If you are a scientist - write to Valentina on firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are a parent - compile the form on the website.