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Following on from a previous talk introduce Science Capital, the Department of Physics recently hosted a webinar presented by Dr Martin Archer, Stephen Hawking fellow in space physics and public engagement from Imperial College London.

He ran through some of the literature around factors that affect STEM aspirations by young people, how the ways we deliver engagement may or may not have much effect on aspirations before he introduced his Physics Research in School Environments (PRiSE) project, talking through the approach and some of the evaluation they've done to take a look at what impacts it's had.

Whilst mostly focused on physics research engagement, this is well worth a watch to take time to critically reflect on your engagement with young people - particularly if raising aspirations is a goal of your work, and a lot of what is discussed is broadly applicable to engagement with other disciplines. It may also raise some issues you weren't aware of and provide useful ideas and inspiration for you to think about applying in your own work.

Some key messages included: thinking carefully about what really affects aspirations, looking at the wider ecology that young peoples' aspirations develop and arise from/within (so including working with families and teachers, not just focusing on young people), looking to repeat interventions rather than one-offs, adapting what you do to target different messages to different school stages, how targeting what you do to those most likely to benefit is worth prioritising, and ways that you can use scalable approaches that have both reach and significance.