Projects in the Science Communication Unit

Current and past projects from the Science Communication Unit.

Staff in the Science Communication Unit include both practitioners and researchers. We run a number of science communication projects directly from the Unit, and are partners on many more. Our team are active in researching and evaluating science communication practice and public engagement.

Current projects

Find out about a selection of our ongoing research and communication projects.

Science, technology and engineering

Exploring and facilitating relationships between natural science, technology, engineering and society.

Digital Engineering Technology and Innovation (DETI)

Digital Engineering Technology and Innovation (DETI) is a new initiative investing in the future of digital engineering for the West of England. UWE Bristol is leading the Skills Development programme for DETI, establishing an engineering engagement hub for the West of England, based out of their new state-of-the-art School of Engineering building. 

Driverless Futures?

A collaboration between University College London and UWE Bristol, funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council. 

Future Cities

A Minecraft-based activity to support children to think about sustainable design of cities for the future. Funded by DETI and expanding on Building to Break Barriers, this Science Hunters session explores sustainable design of Future Cities in Minecraft. 

RoboTIPS Responsible Robots for the Digital Economy

RoboTIPS focuses on social robots with the intention to transform these robots to become more responsible technologies.

SciRoc - European Robotics League

The European Robotics League (ERL) is a novel common framework for two indoor robotics competitions, ERL Industrial Robots and ERL Service Robots, and one outdoor robotics competition, ERL Emergency Robots.

Virtual Natural History Museum

The Virtual Natural History Museum is a novel engagement project that aims to consolidate palaeontological multimedia into a single educational resource. The website takes the form of a giant computer game museum which visitors can explore, just as they would a physical museum, viewing digital versions of fossils and other items you’d find in a museum as they go. The SCU is evaluating the museum prototype to inform its future development for use in schools.

Women Like Me

Women Like Me is a peer mentoring and outreach project aimed at boosting female representation in engineering. The project pairs senior women engineers with junior women engineers to undertake engineering education outreach in schools and at public events in the Bristol and Bath area. Engineering is a creative, socially conscious, and collaborative discipline, and this project aims to support girls and women to make a difference in society.

Health and wellbeing

Examining the ways that communication plays a role in health and wellbeing.

Developing web-based support for parents of young people who self-harm

Developing and evaluating the feasibility of a web-based intervention to support parents of children who self-harm.

Exploring the molecular basis of diabetes with Minecraft

This collaboration between UWE Bristol, Lancaster University, University of Hull and University of Aberdeen is funded by the Royal Society of Chemistry to explore the use of the computer game Minecraft in engaging children with learning about diabetes.

PArental Wellbeing and Support for parents of young people with mental health problems (PAWS)

A Special Interest Research Group, funded by the UKRI-supported Emerging Minds network, on The PArental Wellbeing and Support for parents of young people with mental health problems (PAWS). 

Pro- and anti-vaccine advocacy on Twitter: An analysis of networks and discourses

This research project explores the visual discourse of pro- and anti-vaccine images used for advocacy on Twitter, and investigates the networks that share these pictures.

Scientific Literacy in Nigeria: Boosting Science Communication and Journalism

In this three-year project, SCU is working with TReND (Teaching and Research in Natural Sciences for Development) in Africa and University of Sussex to evaluate the short- and longer-term impacts of an intensive, multi-day training programme for journalists and scientists in Nigeria.

Sustainability and the environment

Studying and enabling communication in areas related to sustainability and the environment

About Drought

This NERC-funded project is designed to maximise the impact of UK research on drought and water scarcity. Building on the work of four major drought research projects, and employing a range of communication methods, SCU is involved in creating guidance and advice relevant to the water supply sector, the agricultural sector, environmental stakeholders, UK businesses and UK communities.

DRY – Drought Risk and You

A multi-disciplinary team are developing an innovative drought science-narrative resource that can be used in decision-making for drought risk management. SCU is involved in two specific research projects: one explores barriers and enablers to drought communication and the other is considering how best to engage stakeholders in this type of interdisciplinary project. SCU is also involved with the citizen science and public engagement aspects of DRY, supporting researchers in developing and delivering activities.

Emerging environmental issues: FORENV report on new technologies in the urban environment

SCU produced a report for the European Commission Directorate-General Environment on new technologies in the urban environment.

Investing in the future of science: UK environmental science engagement

Investigating engagement of UK school-aged children with environmental science, both pre- and post the COVID-19 pandemic.

Science for Environment Policy (SfEP)

The SfEP team of science-policy specialists manage a robust review process, producing bi-weekly news alerts on the latest, significant environmental research for policy makers, researchers and the public – especially with regard to emerging risks and new technologies. The newsletter has over 20,000 subscribers, and the team at UWE Bristol has run the service for the European Commission, Directorate General Environment since 2007.

WeCount – Citizen Observations of UrbaN Transport

WeCount is a two year project (2019-2021) working directly with citizens in five countries across Europe. The Science Communication Unit at UWE Bristol is leading the Monitoring and Evaluation Work Package on behalf of the project. 

Social science and art

Investigating public engagement and research in the social sciences and arts.

Exploring ways to change food waste behaviour in family households with children in the UK

Each person in the UK throws away more than their body weight in food each year and food waste is particularly high in family households – this project explores why that is and how we can change that.

RETHINK

The overall objective of RETHINK is to provide recommendations and guidelines to maintain and improve the quality of interactions in the new science communication landscape. The project aims to provide support to re-examine and re-orientate science communication across Europe.

VIP-CLEAR - Voices in a pandemic: Children's lockdown experiences applied to recovery

A UKRI-funded project to study how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the learning, development, health and wellbeing of vulnerable, socially disadvantaged children in England.

Informal and formal learning

Research and practical projects that link science communication and education.

Building to Break Barriers

Building to Break Barriers is an outreach project that aims to engage children from under-represented groups with engineering, using the computer game Minecraft, a popular computer game that allows players to build limitless, imaginative creations.

Early Career Researcher Training: Western Balkans

A bespoke training programme for early career researchers from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia. The project is funded by the British Council.

Epic Fail

Funded by the Royal Academy of Engineering and Arts Council UK, Epic Fail will be a performance lecture made with, by and for young people and their families. Using the lens of Engineering and Art Epic Fail explores failure as a virtue with young people using fun, engaging, interactive and participatory methods.

Evaluation of the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures

This evaluation aimed to assess what makes the Christmas Lectures successful.

Horticulture Advocates Programme (HAP)

Inspiring students to explore exciting Science Technology Engineering Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) opportunities in the horticultural industry, we are contributing to this project, which is being led by Eden Project Learning.

Invisible worlds

David Judge's PhD will use an action research approach to follow the development of the Eden Project’s latest exhibition, Invisible Worlds.

Science Hunters

Science Hunters is an outreach project, managed by SCU Research Fellow Dr Laura Hobbs, with collaboration between the SCU and Lancaster University, which uses the computer game Minecraft to engage children with science.

UWE BoxED

UWE BoxED is a school focused outreach programme of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths)-related activities. The activities take place at the school and, this year, the focus is on Key Stage 3 and 4 (Years 7–13). The aim is to support schools in delivering engaging STEM content and keep students excited about STEM subjects.

Past projects

Our projects are organised under five themes, though they may bridge more than one category.

Science, technology and engineering

Exploring and facilitating relationships between natural science, technology, engineering and society.

EU Parliament: Ethical concerns and moral issues in artificial intelligence

SCU produced a report for the EU Parliament on the key ethical issues and challenges associated with artificial intelligence (AI), including robots.

euRathlon

An EU-funded outdoor robotics competition, in which teams from around the world were invited to test the intelligence and autonomy of their robots in realistic, demanding mock emergency-response scenarios.

Heart Robot

An engagement project which brought together creative, artistic and engineering skills to develop a semi-autonomous robot puppet.

Robotic Visions

The 'Robotic Visions' project aimed to provide a unique platform for two-way discussion and debate between young people and robotics researchers.

Robot Thought

An interactive dialogue event, designed to stimulate the audience to think about and discuss advances in robotics.

Robots vs Animals

A Royal Academy of Engineering project where engineers collaborated with zoologists to showcase how humans have learned from the ingenuity of nature.

Royal Astronomical Society RAS200: evaluation of outreach and engagement

To create a buzz around Astronomy and Earth Sciences leading up to the 200-year anniversary celebrations in 2020, the Royal Astronomical Society is funding various tranches of outreach and engagement activities all over the UK. We are carrying out the evaluation of these activities as part of a team led by Jenesys Associates.

Talking Robots

Robotics encompassed a broad range of academic disciplines including engineering, biology, neuroscience, psychology and artificial intelligence.

Verifiable autonomy

In the next 20 years, we expect to see autonomous vehicles, aircraft, robots, devices, swarms, and software, all of which will (and must) be able to make their own decisions without human intervention. This EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council) funded project is concerned with building autonomous systems that are verifiably correct.

Health and wellbeing

Examining the ways that communication plays a role in health and wellbeing.

Meet the Gene Machine

A dialogue event designed to stimulate debate into the personal, social and ethical issues of advances in medical genetics.

Food for Life

Evaluation of the Food for Life programme; a trans-national advocacy coalition on food, public health and sustainability in school and youth settings.

Food Growing Schools

Evaluation of the Food Growing Schools London programme which sought to develop food growing in schools across London as a means of reconnecting communities with food, health and the environment.

Our City Our Health

A Wellcome-funded public engagement project, working with UK artists and Bristol-based community organisations to creatively engage city citizens on issues around healthy urban development. SCU drives the project, drawing on the expertise of UWE Bristol health and urban planning academics, economists from the University of Bath, public health specialists, and an urban sustainability consultancy, bringing together art, economics and health science into the same space, using a range of creative consultation methods to engage a wide range of city users, both digital and face-to-face. Play the Shape Our City game.

UPSTREAM

A team drawn from different disciplines – public health, urban design, economics and science communication – are developing an economic valuation model and engaging with the private sector to deliver healthy planning principles in the Wellcome Trust project 'Moving health and sustainability upstream into strategic urban development decision-making'.

Sustainability and the environment

Studying and enabling communication in areas related to sustainability and the environment.

ClairCity

ClairCity was an innovative project involving thousands of people in cities across Europe, which enabled us all to decide the best local options for a future with clean air and lower carbon emissions. ClairCity was funded by the European Union.

INSPIRE: In-situ processes in resource extraction from waste repositories

Our objective is to understand and manipulate the in-situ biogeochemistry of waste within waste repositories (eg landfills, industrial waste, municipal solid waste, metallurgical and mining waste) to recover valuable resources by leaching and other treatments whilst the material lies in situ, thus avoiding the need to actively extract the material and thereby minimise ecological and environmental impacts.

Interpreting landscape change in the Avalon Marshes

This project sought to inspire young people to explore the scientific underpinning of climate change, as well as the societal issues that shape their landscape, and the ways that partnerships between different stakeholder groups can help to meet and support social needs.

Social science and art

Investigating public engagement in the social sciences and arts.

Careful

Careful is exploring the potential of drama to help student nurses explore and reflect on their roles as carers.

Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Festival of Social Science scoping study

A small study of the ESRC Festival of Social Science from 2006 to 2011 which reviewed the successes and the benefits over time, as well as developing learning points for future events.

Negotiated Boundaries

A British Academy Small Research grant funded this project which was carried out within the Science Communication Unit.

SCOOP

The SCOOP project sought to support the efforts of the research community in the social sciences to reach policy makers.

Unkindest Cut

Researchers evaluated an interdisciplinary science and arts project which explored the theme of young people’s mental health. The Wellcome Trust and Arts Council England-funded project toured science festivals in the UK in 2018 and 2019.

Informal and formal learning

Research and practical projects that link science communication and education.

Children as Engineers - paired peer mentors in primary schools

An undergraduate module has been developed to provide student engineers opportunities to practice their public engagement skills with pre-service teachers and primary school children. To support Continuing Professional Development in this area, a new network for STEM outreach in primary schools in the Bristol region has been established, called Curiosity Connections Bristol.

Evaluation of Connected Communities Public Dialogue Activity

Connected Communities is a cross-council Research Programme led by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

Evaluation of the Royal Society Education Outreach Training Course

This evaluation assessed the impact and influence of a pilot training course in education outreach.

Evidence for Informal Science Learning

Commissioned by the Wellcome Trust, the Science Communication Unit carried out research in 2013 to identify evidence on informal learning in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths).

Generic Venues in Science Communication

This in-depth public engagement research project involved a thorough investigation of best practice in science communication within generic venues.

Impact of festivals on community engagement with research

A project investigating UWE Bristol’s role in festival engagement, to understand how the activities that take place within a festival setting can generate ‘social capital’.

Latitude Festival Evaluation 2014

The Science Communication Unit conducted an evaluation of a strand of activities sponsored by the Wellcome Trust at the 2014 Latitude Festival.

Learning from engagement

Laura Fogg-Rogers’ DPhil aims to explore preferences for, and cultures of, science communication at live science events.

Public Engagement Map

In 2009, the Science Communication Unit undertook research producing a public engagement map.

Science Comics

A comic strip written by Emma Weitkamp to engage key stage 2 primary school children with science.

Science festival network evaluation

The Festival of Nature, British Science Week and Bristol Food Connections are just some of the popular science events that engage hundreds of thousands of members of the UK population each year. This evaluation looks at why audiences attend and how festivals can evaluate their impact.

Science Live

This landscape study researched the similarities and differences between the huge varieties of live science events.

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) Directories Gap Analysis

This research focused on the data contained within the UK-wide STEM Directories to identify gaps and overlaps in provision.

Project partners

We are pleased to acknowledge our project partners support of our work and look forward to continuing many long term relationships.

We have been involved in science communication practice and research since 1997 and work with a diverse range of funders and project partners ranging from research councils to charities.

Science Communication Unit

The SCU is internationally renowned for its diverse and innovative activities, designed to engage the public with science.

SCU

Research centres and groups

Browse UWE Bristol's portfolio of research areas, expertise, staff and publications.