Science in the Supermarket

Public engagement project to reach young families in neutral third spaces

Photograph of engagement stand in supermarket
Photograph of engagement stand inside a supermarket in the West Country.

Science in the Supermarket was an engagement project, funded by Imperial College London’s Societal Engagement Seed Fund to promote studying STEM subjects to young families in the West Country.

Visit the project website

Target audience

The campaign targeted families with low science capital to promote the acceptance rates of students from these backgrounds into higher-education programmes. Science capital is a concept developed through the ASPIRES research project into young people’s aspirations, and is defined as “science-related qualifications, understanding, knowledge (about science and ‘how it works’), interest and social contacts (e.g. knowing someone who works in a science-related job)”.1

The target audience was 8-12-year-olds, living in the Somerset area, from family backgrounds with low science capital. However, rather than directly targeting this demographic, the project focused on reaching the parents and families of these children. The rationale for this approach was supported by previous reporting and research in relevant areas:


The project aimed to achieve its primary objective by:

Read the full project report here

  1. ASPIRES, “ASPIRES: Young people’s science and career aspirations, age 10 – 14” (London, 2013), Internet Archive Link↩︎

  2. A. MacDonald, “‘Not for people like me?’ Under-represented groups in science, technology and engineering” (2014), Internet Archive Link↩︎

  3. Behavioural Insights Team, “Behavioural Insights and the Somerset Challenge” (London, 2015), Internet Archive Link↩︎

  4. UCAS, UK application rates by the January deadline. 2016 cycle (2016), Internet Archive Link↩︎

  5. HEFCE, POLAR – Participation of Local Areas (2017), Internet Archive Link↩︎

  6. HEFCE, “Further information on POLAR3: An analysis of geography, disadvantage and entrants to higher education” (2014), (available at ). ↩︎

  7. UCAS, “Imperial College London - 2016 Sex, area background and ethnic group” (2016), (available at ). ↩︎

  8. HESA, “Widening participation summary: UK Performance Indicators 2015/16” (2017), (available at ). ↩︎

  9. HEFCE, Higher education provision in England pre-2015 (2014), Internet Archive Link↩︎