Societal Impact Statement: Currently, there is no national overview of environmental science engagement in the United Kingdom. Children are key stakeholders in the future of science more generally and environmental science specifically. Appraising the situation immediately before the United Kingdom first entered lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic allows both assessment of the achievements of the UK environmental science engagement field before the impacts of the changes resulting from the pandemic, and an up-to-date baseline by which to assess those impacts and identify existing gaps to be addressed post-pandemic. Results indicate that support is needed to increase reach and recognition of the importance of engagement, particularly in rural areas and outside Southeast England. Summary: Scoping research was carried out as the first step towards addressing knowledge gaps around engagement of school-aged children with environmental science in the United Kingdom. Key objectives were identifying which institutions carry out this engagement, its scope and where further engagement is needed, and assessing visibility of projects. Examples of good practice were also highlighted to inform the wider community. This was carried out via systematic online searches and an online survey of UK-based environmental science engagement professionals, February to March 2020. Most projects were operating locally with a smaller proportion also operating nationally or internationally. Remote engagement comprised a low proportion of delivery, with most projects engaging children in school during school time, using practical sessions. Universities, charities, trusts and societies comprised the majority of hosting institutions. Visiting a low number of schools, a low number of times per year was common, although some projects reached thousands of children in many schools. There was a focus on reaching children aged 7–14 years, relatively evenly split between primary and secondary phases. All major environmental science themes were well represented. Most evaluation and reporting was simple and descriptive, and while key areas for expansion included widening reach in terms of numbers and geography, funding was highlighted as a barrier to achieving this. Results give a snapshot of the state of play before the United Kingdom entered lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic, also providing a baseline by which to assess impacts post-pandemic.
Hobbs, L., & Stevens, C. (2022). Investing in the future of science: Assessing UK environmental science engagement with school-aged children. Plants, People, Planet, 4(3), 232-242. https://doi.org/10.1002/ppp3.10250