Winning category: STEM Educational Programme of the Year (not-for-profit sector)

Brief description of business:

Set in the heart of Cardiff Bay, Techniquest is the UK’s longest-established science discovery centre on a mission to inspire people of all ages and from all kinds of backgrounds to explore and discover more about STEM through hands-on engagement: bringing science to life for every generation, encouraging natural curiosity about life, the planet and universe. Welcoming over 150,000 visitors each year on average, Techniquest has been a rite of passage for many school children and families in Wales for decades and the Science Capital expansion, which launched in 2020, has provided more opportunities than ever to engage with a wider audience.

Why they deserved to win their category:

Over the past year, Techniquest has worked in partnership with the Glasgow Science Centre to develop a pilot project, launched in Spring 2023, consisting of three bespoke 6-week learning programmes for Primary Schools: Learning Lab Cymru. In line with Techniquest’s central mission, the aim is to inspire and enthuse the next generation, to help them find and develop a passion for STEM, discovering the scientist within. The concept provides a platform for learners between the ages of 7 and 11 (Progression Steps 2 & 3) to explore hands-on activities, meet inspirational professionals and to share ideas. It also provides a structure for interdisciplinary learning for educators, increases teacher confidence in delivering STEM subjects, and supports curriculum experience and outcomes.

The programme is delivered as a hybrid experience of online learning for both the classroom and for the home, alongside ‘in person’ visits to Techniquest where they have the opportunity to explore hands-on science through over 100 interactive exhibits and live science shows; plus, in the case of the Space programme, taking a Star Tour in the Planetarium.

Learning Lab Cymru aims to inspire and empower pupils through relevant, varied learning experiences across the course of several weeks. Each unique programme tackles a different subject area, comprising lesson plans, video content and interactions with experts, providing teachers with high quality content. This is delivered by class teachers but with ongoing support from Techniquest’s Development Team. Contributions from real world STEM professionals offer inspiration and context for learners, and each programme culminates with an element that celebrates pupils’ learning and achievements.

How does the individual, business, or organisation further the STEM sector in Wales?

Techniquest continues to open doorways to the realm of STEM in engaging and unusual ways. Projects like the Nuffield Research Programme and links with the Office for National Statistics are just a couple of the more direct connections that are facilitated through Techniquest for students, enabling them to gain invaluable experience of work in a STEM-related field.

Generating a wealth of educational resources that are used by thousands of young people every year, Techniquest feeds directly into the career pathway of many students who will go on to work in the STEM sector, as they become fascinated by these topics, and the enthusiasm and passion that is passed on to them through the Techniquest team. The seeds of science sown in those who engage with Techniquest can easily germinate into fully-fledged professional engagement in the longer-term.

Whether it’s hosting corporate events in a unique science-themed environment; making connections between the general public and other STEM organisations through new live science shows, exhibits and education projects; or simply introducing people of all ages to the concepts of science in a way that is fun and entertaining: Techniquest is a truly iconic, scientific centre-piece of Wales’ capital city, and its public-facing work continues to make STEM ever more accessible to the people of Wales.