British Science Week 2023 is fast approaching, and many teachers will be starting to think about organizing events for their school. But it can be a daunting prospect, and hard to know where to start! We have broken down the whole process of planning activities for science week into 10 steps, which will lead you through, from start to finish.
1. Think about your aims
What do you want to achieve by running science week activities? This will help to shape your ideas as you plan. Some of the benefits might be:
Boost your students’ interest in and engagement with STEM and nurture a love for science
Encourage them to think about STEM careers
Foster the ability to think scientifically and observe the world around them
2. Get your colleagues on board
Planning a science week can be a big job, so it’s a good idea to get your colleagues excited by the idea early. Why not encourage cross-curricular links by asking the art department to think about how they could showcase science and creativity, or the English department to encourage the students to read some science or sci-fi books?
3. Decide on a date
Many UK schools run their science week in March, to line up with British Science Week. This is a great time to do it in some ways, as there are loads of online resources available as activities for science week, and you might be able to partner with other local schools, or even book a fun science workshop or show and share the cost. But it can be a lot harder to book visitors to come in to your school- we get very busy during March! So some schools decide to run their science week activities at another time of the year- it’s totally up to you!
4. Work out your budget
An important factor in the kind of science week you can run is how much money you have available. At one end of the spectrum, if you have a large budget, you might be able to book a full day of science workshops and shows from different providers (like Braintastic! Science) for each day of your science week. This could be fantastic for the students, as they would get to hear from experts on a range of topics, and would be less work for you than delivering the content yourself. (And you might be surprised that booking a science workshop is generally cheaper than a school trip.) If you do fall into this category, please do get in touch- we have worked with some other fantastic Science Communicators over the years, so can recommend excellent science presenters (including some fab women in STEM) for almost every topic under the sun, making your planning a breeze! Or we could even put together the whole science week for you – just let us know what you’re after.
But if that’s not possible, don’t fear- there are loads of cheap or free science experiments and enrichment activities that you can pull together into a fantastic science week. You can find some great links and ideas in our Activities for Science Week blog Or why not apply for a grant to give your science week a boost? The British Science Association offers £500 grants for community groups to run one or more events during BSW, and a larger £1000 option if you’d like to include follow-up activities and keep the science fun going after Science Week is over. Applications for 2023 aren’t open yet, but join our mailing list (if you haven’t already!) and we’ll let you know when they do open.
5. Decide on a timetable
Working out how to structure your science week can be tricky, but there are a few ways to approach it. One idea would be to take one or two year groups off-timetable each day, and provide them with a full day of science fun. Alternatively, students could continue going to their other classes, as normal, and you could replace the usual science lessons in the timetable with special activities for science week.
One thing we highly recommend is to kick off with a whole school science week assembly (or perhaps divide into two groups, lower and upper school). Ideas for this might include asking your science teachers to share their favourite demo, getting some parents who work in STEM jobs to come in and talk about their careers, or of course, hiring an organisation like Braintastic! Science to deliver a spectacular science show. Even if budget is tight, having something really fun and engaging to start the week can make sure everyone is excited for what is to come.
6. Pick a venue
Where are you going to host your activities? If you are mainly running class-based science workshops and challenges, you may be able to do that in the classrooms. But if you have booked a whole school science show, you will probably need to use the school hall or theatre, so it’s a good idea to make sure it is available, well in advance! Think about whether there are activities you could run in other places too- maybe the students could explore science outdoors, in the playground, if the weather allows?
7. Book external providers
The next step is to book in any external providers you need. People who provide science shows for schools can get booked up several months in advance, so it’s a good idea to start there. Then, you can fill in your timetable with other options. You might like to contact the STEM Ambassadors, and request a visit from a volunteer STEM professional who will talk to your students about their job, and answer the kids’ science questions. It’s also worth considering virtual school visits, especially if your budget is tight. Online science workshops can give your students a chance to interact with a range of STEM experts, relatively cheaply.
8. Find great supporting resources
Once you’ve got your headline events booked in, you might want to find some ways to build on what the students have learned. There are so many fantastic resources online, but it can be a bit overwhelming to work out what to use. Some great starting points are:
British Science Week activity packs. These contain loads of ideas for activities you can run, linking into the year’s theme, and there are variants for different age groups. Plus, you can access previous year’s packs on their website, so there is a huge range of content to choose from.
STEM days in a box from Curiosity Box have everything you need to run a full STEM day- from presentations and videos to all the kit for hands-on activities, and even prizes for the students. Each box has enough for 30 students, and topics range from forensics to sustainable energy.
The Braintastic! Science team have put together a range of projects and lesson plans which make great activities for science week. From DIY illusions to a whole-class engineering challenge, there is bound to be something that will spark your imagination!
And don’t forget to check out our blog post, packed with loads more resources!
9. Get creative
Science week doesn’t just have to mean experiments. There are loads of creative ways
you can engage students with STEM. Here are some ideas:
A scientist fancy dress competition, where the whole school dresses up as their favourite scientist
A science themed treasure hunt
A class show & tell, where everyone explains the science of an everyday object
Giving your older students the challenge of demonstrating an experiment to younger students.
10. Get the school excited
In the lead up to your science week, build the buzz and get teachers, parents and students excited for what’s to come. You could put up posters around the school (maybe students could help you make these?), deliver an announcement in assembly, and write a feature for the school magazine or website, so parents know that something exciting is happening. If you book Braintastic! Science Shows, we will provide you with custom posters and newsletter copy, to make this a quick and easy job!
We hope these tips help you with planning science week for your school, and you and your students have a fantastic time. Whether its part of British Science Week, or at another time of year, we’d love to get involved and help you celebrate the wonders of science. So do check out our range of spectacular science shows for schools and hands-on science workshops and let us know how we can help…