EU H2020 PERFORM Research Project


David busking manchester

David performing science busking on the streets of Manchester.

Since October 2015 we have been working on an exciting EU funded research project called PERFORM. The project is funded for three years and aims to explore science education methods based on the performing arts in the UK, Spain and France. The project uses direct interaction between students, science communicators and researchers to foster engagement in STEM.

Each country are using a performance style based on the expertise of their science communicators. For the UK, this is us and we will be teaching students the art and value of science busking.

Students in Spain are working with The Big Van Theory using comedy monologues while in France TRACES are using their performance style of science clowning.


What have we done so far?


Phase 1: Exploratory Workshops

David performing one of our science busks about the many uses of peat.
CC-BY-science made simple

During 2016 science made simple ran exploratory workshops with year 9 students in 4 schools across the UK. These workshops helped us to find out what young people think about the challenges facing scientists.

We used this information to design a series of science busks which challenge some the common misconceptions found during the exploratory workshops. For example, the idea that science only happens in a lab was challenged to show the students that science is in lots of other professions too including hair dressing and playing football. These busks were packaged together into an hour long session called a PERSEIA.

We took our PERSEIA on tour in the UK to 12 schools, including the 4 where the exploratory workshops were held. Check out the video below to see some of our busks in action!


Phase 2: Participatory Workshops

Researcher Lindsay and her team preparing their shark themed bio-engineering busk.
CC-BY- S. Mears

Between January and April  2017 we returned to Fairfield High School in Bristol to run a series of participatory workshops. The students involved worked through activities designed to explore the challenges faced by scientists and the many ways that science interacts with society. During this process they met and interacted with researchers from the University of Bristol. This broke down the barrier that researchers are “too clever” to speak to and showed the students that researchers are ordinary people, like them, who work using science.

Throughout the workshops the students worked in small groups to develop their own science busks about a topic of their choice.

Last week the students performed their busks in the school lunch hall to other school students. This was a daunting task for anyone to face, but the students faced it head on and did science made simple proud by taking science to their peers in new fun and exciting ways.

Students performing their science during their school lunch break.
CC-BY-S. Mears


What are we doing next?


Phase 3: Revise and Repeat.

Over the next few months all the PERFORM partners will be working together to assess the participatory workshops that were held in each country. We will all be looking at what worked, what didn’t and what we could improve on.

Then, next year, we will be taking the new and improved participatory workshops to three other Bristol based schools and running them all over again.


How can I find out more?

For more information you can check out the PERFORM website, follow the projects progress on Facebook and Twitter or register for the PERFORM newsletter straight to your inbox.

science made simple would like to say a massive thank you to all the school teachers, students and university researchers who have been involved in the PERFORM project so far!


This project has received funding from the European Union’s H2020 Research and Innovation Programme under No 665826 grant aggreement.