Science Circus Pacific

Science Circus Pacific (SCP) is a pioneering DFAT-supported science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) communication and education capacity building project. SCP’s change model involves dynamic partnerships with Pacific governments and institutions (universities, NGOs, community organisations, etc.) based on strong people-to people links both with executive decision makers and frontline staff and volunteers.

SCP supports Australian Government regional education, economic and human development policy objectives through STEM education capacity-building, including engagement with disadvantaged women and girls and people with disabilities. In the long term, it aims to further enable Pacific partners to build the knowledge, skills and local talent that Pacific nations will need to respond to long term challenges related to heath and climate.

Science Circus Pacific will “motivate the learners of ways to invent using simple local resources” and “change their mindset to love science” – Fijian teachers

SCP’s cross-cutting capacity building model is unique, engaging families and communities, tertiary and basic education, and government – with a key aim of empowering Pacific partner organisations to do the same. The model reflects the wider learning ecosystem in the Pacific – it is much more than just schools – and positions SCP to make unique and broad contributions to Australia’s relationship with the Pacific, including Public and Science Diplomacy.

The project works closely with a range of Pacific partners to train and upskill staff and volunteers, codesign culturally relevant science content, deliver programs to schools, teachers and the wider community, and build meaningful and productive relationships between Australian and Pacific people and organisations. It employs an impact-focused model where Partner capability is built through real-world program development and delivery, strengthening Pacific partners while benefiting Pacific communities.

The initial project is funded from 2019-2021. The project is the brainchild of CPAS academic Dr Graham Walker and coordinated by staff member and PhD student Joe Duggan.

Responding to regional challenges – COVID 19 response

With COVID restricting travel, SCP has pivoted to remote engagement, social media initiatives and piloted methodologies for remote partner capacity building and mentoring, which have already supported independent program delivery by our partners. Working directly with teachers and families, and via Pacific Ministries of Education, the program has supported homeschooling, online learning and teacher professional development to support Pacific Islanders’ learning through challenges presented by the pandemic.

Expanding the project’s capacity to address Pacific regional challenges, including COVID, public health issues such as diabetes, and climate change is a key priority going forward.

Key activities and impacts

Since SCP started in January 2019 our small but energetic team has:

  • Formed fruitful relations relationships with a range of Pacific partners including Imagine Samoa, Fiji National University, University of the South Pacific, Graduate Women Fiji, Ministries of Education in Fiji and Samoa, and Australian diplomatic missions.
  • Trained 58 people from the education and informal learning sector, with some of these change makers already training other staff.
  • Engaged 5344 people, primarily youth but also teachers, parents and the wider community, in metropolitan and rural Fiji and Samoa
  • Implemented seven capacity building projects across Fiji and Samoa spanning nine weeks
  • Co-designed and co-delivered 42 science shows, seven making and innovation workshops, and five pop-up science centres featuring travelling interactive science exhibits with our Pacific partners.
  • Worked with Pacific partners on strategy, networking and management, resulting in Pacific partners independently winning grant funding.
  • Ran six capacity building workshops centered around Partner needs and opportunities
  • Reached approximately 500,000 people across the Pacific via social media, with over 18,000 Facebook engagements and more than 100 shares.

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