Cap­i­tal­is­ing on cu­rios­ity

THE (Times Higher Education) - - KING'S COLLEGE LONDON -

King’s PhD stu­dent Sweta Ragha­van (pic­tured, be­low) saw just how few dis­ad­van­taged stu­dents were par­tic­i­pat­ing in higher ed­u­ca­tion and de­cided to do some­thing about it.

With the help of King’s, she set up Sci­en­tists & Co, a char­ity that aims to pro­mote fair ac­cess to ed­u­ca­tion for all chil­dren and to de­velop a cul­ture of sci­en­tific cu­rios­ity in young peo­ple who might never have con­sid­ered it as a sub­ject or ca­reer. With that in mind, she set about de­vel­op­ing pro­grammes to help chil­dren from dis­ad­van­taged back­grounds to learn about science, have the op­por­tu­nity to gain ex­cit­ing ex­pe­ri­ences and, ul­ti­mately, build suc­cess­ful sci­en­tific ca­reers.

Its main pro­gramme, Shadow a Sci­en­tist, of­fers chil­dren from low-par­tic­i­pa­tion schools a place­ment at King’s. These chil­dren (usu­ally in Years 12-13) get to shadow re­searchers and en­joy taster work­shops.

Fol­low­ing a pi­lot in July last year, the char­ity has run three more ses­sions. So far, it has men­tored 98 stu­dents from more than 30 schools. Nine out of 10 of the stu­dents on the pro­gramme sub­se­quently gained univer­sity of­fers, 63 per cent of which were at Rus­sell Group in­sti­tu­tions.

Another pro­gramme grew out of the char­ity’s be­lief that, as science has no bor­ders, so stu­dents around the globe must ben­e­fit from knowl­edge of cut­ting-edge re­search.

Science With­out Bor­ders of­fers the op­por­tu­nity, via we­bi­nars, for young peo­ple to gain in­sights from aca­demics at some of the world’s lead­ing in­sti­tu­tions into the world of science and the life of a sci­en­tist.

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