Judge and Jury: Science Week was a successful experiment in encouraging kids - You don’t need a science degree to deduce the success of Science Week, says Catherine Warne, head of healthcare for the GCI Group

’Oh no, not another ’week’ created solely as a PR vehicle to sell virtually anything ...’ I hear editors scream.

’Oh no, not another ’week’ created solely as a PR vehicle to sell

virtually anything ...’ I hear editors scream.

The very notion of blindly naming one of our precious 52 portions of the

year as being dedicated to selling or awareness tends to leave a rather

1980s PR taste in the mouth - not so with Science Week.

This ’Week’ actually went the whole hog and attempted to meet its

objectives of taking science into the community and the work of

scientists to a public previously unknown to them.

Masterminded by the British Association for the Advancement of Science,

a series of regional activities was run to interest the ’young people,

including the most able, to study science and technology beyond 16’.

Other organisations, such as the Science Museum, ran their own


As a DINKY (is this still a fashionable turn of phrase?) I am afraid

Science Week very nearly passed me. However, after a quick investigation

(that is, a tour of the internet and a an e-mail to GCI Group

colleagues) it was soon revealed to me that Science Week was quite

familiar to those who do have children at school and others whose

hangover on a Saturday morning reduces them to watching kiddies’ TV.

The tactics used during the week were clever, particularly the focus on

strange phenomena. Of particular interest were: looking at the design of

the bra using Electron Speckly Pattern Intermemometry; the jumper made

from the wool of clone sheep Dolly; the innermost workings of the mind

as identified with the use of a pencil; and the pharmacology of cannabis

- a lecture at Addenbrooke’s Hospital. Ofcourse, the hook of Tomorrow’s

World was excellent and served the dual purpose of promoting the Week

and revamping TW’s ratings.

National newspaper coverage was excellent - particularly in the


A feature on the sober science of boozology made fascinating reading,

but if I was a 16-year-old it would probably have encouraged me into the

pub, rather than the science lab.

However, the great success of the Week has to be the campaign in local

schools and retail outlets where Science Week truly reached its target

audience. Every parent I spoke with knew about Science Week and was

working with the children on some sort of project on their kitchen table

that week. So congratulations on a well orchestrated and interesting

campaign, although not cheap at pounds 250,000.

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