Research done at a university can sometimes seem very remote to the general public, even though that university might be at the centre of where people live and work. Furthermore the evidence is clear that the most deprived communities participate the least in university education – because they see that universities are “not for me”.
Oriel Science is a Swansea University public engagement project that takes research done by Swansea researchers, crafts these into interactive and visceral exhibits, and places them at the heart of the community. It welcomes members of the public and students on organised school visits. It has also run and given presentations at festivals .
Oriel Science is run by a small team including Swansea University researchers and is aimed at all members of the public to develop their familiarity with science, a.k.a. ‘Science Capital’ but with an emphasis on reaching underrepresented groups in the community. Published research shows that developing Science Capital is the best way to encourage Future Generations into university education.
From its pop-up exhibition in Swansea city centre in 2016 to its 100s of visits to schools and science festivals around Wales, Oriel Science has interacted with over 150,000 people in over 100 events, bringing research out of the ‘ivory towers’ and into the community. Visitors to its pop-up exactly matched the socio-economic profile of the Swansea community, proving that Oriel Science was a place for all. As a result of this success, Oriel now has a long-term home on the Swansea High Street, allowing the team to continue to engage, inspire and excite future generations. It has inspired its participants to apply to University, aided researchers gain research grants using public engagement as a vehicle for “Impact”, and given employment opportunities to current Swansea University students.