‘The Spark’ is a free STEM family learning magazine, available in both digital and physical form, created by Glasgow Science Centre. It encourages and supports families to explore STEM topics in fun, inspiring and creative ways together, whilst also building their confidence in STEM and STEM related skills.
Glasgow Science Centre (GSC) worked in partnership with Education Scotland CLD to distribute their family learning STEM magazine ‘The Spark’ to CLD teams in local authorities across Scotland. This resource was targeted at vulnerable families lacking in digital access following feedback on digital exclusion issues during Covid-19 through the Education Scotland CLD Adult Literacy Network.
‘The Spark’ magazine was developed in response to the lockdown of 2020. ‘The Spark’ is an accessible family learning STEM magazine which contains home experiments, quizzes and puzzles, and is suitable for all ages. It has been designed to support families engage in STEM and has been important in helping GSC support and engage communities with limited access to online technology. It has also allowed GSC to continue to offer science learning and engagement opportunities for families in low SIMD areas.
GSC had also created “GSC At Home” which consisted of online videos for families to engage with science learning from home. GSC recognised that this was not accessible for all families due to digital technology and internet access barriers, and so produced ‘The Spark’ magazine in response for local Glasgow communities.
GSC looked to expand the reach and accessibility of science learning throughout Scotland and partnered with Education Scotland CLD to promote and distribute this resource further. Local authorities received copies of issue 10 of ‘The Spark’ with some also receiving a selection of past issues.
‘The Spark’ is created with support from The Inspiring Science Fund provided by BEIS, UKRI and Wellcome Trust.
In total 7,190 copies of ‘The Spark’ magazine were distributed to 12 of the 32 local authorities in Scotland with a further 18,820 being delivered to community organisations.
These were then disseminated out to their local communities.
Feedback from the Inverclyde CLD Team has helped to evaluate the wider impact of The Spark resource:
1. What has been the impact of receiving The Spark in terms of outcomes for learners?
500 families, from 12 Primary Attainment Schools across Inverclyde received a copy of the Spark magazine, alongside a resource pack, that contained all of the materials to carry out and complete the learning activities. This was to ensure families were able to fully participate in the learning activities being offered, and that finances or access to resources did not create barriers to participation. Alongside the resources we also supplied information for the families on learning opportunities offered by both the Primary Attainment Challenge and Community Learning and Development teams. We worked in partnership with the schools to develop a referral process that would enable staff to follow up with families to offer ongoing support for learning and progression, depending on the needs identified by the families. This has:
- Increased parental awareness of supporting their child’s learning through activities and play
- Stimulated an increase in numeracy, science and technology activities as a family unit
- Increased knowledge of learning opportunities and pathways for parents and families within Inverclyde
2. Would you use the resource in future and if so, how?
Yes, feedback from Pupil Equity Fund Senior Worker has highlighted that she would use this resource as part of her ongoing family learning activities, by modelling the activities to parents, and then giving the resources for the parents to complete with their children at home.
Within Community Learning and Development, we would use the magazine at the hubs to engage with and encourage family learning opportunities to support parents and carers to become active participants in their children’s learning.
3. Quotes from learners reflecting impact:
- “I thought the magazine was really good, and like that it was structured activities. The fact that CLD provided the resources made the activities easy to do, as you didn’t have to go and find/buy things. Found the activities beneficial to do as a family and I feel that they enhanced family conversation, as the activities included things like literacy and numeracy. My daughter, who is really creative, enjoyed the activities, and they have sparked other activity ideas for us to do.”
- “Pack activities were good, my daughter loves doing arts and crafts so she was delighted to get a pack. We sat and made the snowflakes together and she especially enjoyed making the popper! It was good all resources were supplied and it gave her something nice to do in these strange times. I would definitely recommend to others. My daughter was keen to get started on the pack right away and we did sit down and spend time together to do this.”
- How am I helping adults and families to continue to engage in STEM learning and wider opportunities?
- What support and information can I signpost adults to?
- How might the support and provision for adults need to be adapted or done differently during Covid-19?
- How can I raise awareness of the needs of adults and families during this time and ensure that their needs and voices are heard in recovery planning?
- How am I measuring the impact of new approaches and services and evolving these to suit the needs of adults and families?