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University of Oxford – Science Together project begins its second year and new community groups are encouraged to join the programme

June 15, 2022

In September 2022 Science Together will begin its second year, and are looking for new community groups to join the programme.

The programme aims to support community groups to seize an opportunity or overcome a problem by collaborating with our researchers. Through this we hope to build mutually-beneficial partnerships and increase the scale and scope of opportunities for people who live and work in Oxfordshire.

Participation is completely free, we will pay participating community groups a contribution towards their time and provide a budget for their project. We will support them throughout the process as they develop a project with our researchers that addresses issues important to them and their community.

If your group or organisation is interested in knowing more, please email OCVA at: pulse@ocva.org.uk

Below is a list of the range of projects that are possible, however each new group that signs up will be able to define their own project.

Science Together community groups and projects which have taken place this year: 

Barton coLAB – Young people aged 13-16 have co-created a disaster-themed immersive experience, to bring local people in their community together around an imaginary disaster scenario. A volcano has suddenly started emitting huge clouds of ash that are blocking light from the sun across the globe. Barton, on the eastern edge of Oxford, is getting cold! How will you face the coming volcanic winter? The Barton Survival Centre features challenges, crafts and more.

Daybreak – This project has not one but two research strands. Researchers from Engineering are investigating how wearable technology can help people with dementia live independent lives for longer. Alongside this, researchers from the Oxford Brookes Centre for Psychological Research gather data on the impacts of therapeutic art classes and how they can positively influence the wellbeing of dementia sufferers.

Leys CDI – Leys Community Development Initiative want an app to help the young people they work with better connect with the services available to them. However, rather than developing this independently they have enabled the young people to lead the development – to prioritise collaborative research and user-centred design. Through workshops with Oxford Computer Science Department the young people of Blackbird Leys and Greater Leys estates are co-developing and building the app for their peers.

KEEN – Disabled young people across Oxfordshire are working with researchers and academics to explore challenges and enablers for communication in different settings. Uniquely, this is being done through the development of an innovative new board game called Game On!, which is based on challenging scenarios commonly experienced by young people, for example going to hospital appointments.

Oxford Neighbourhood Watch – This collaboration seeks to understand more about bike theft and theft prevention in Oxford. A survey has been developed, in collaboration with researchers, to gather the experiences of local residents. It focuses on low-end or second-hand bikes, in particular, which are less likely to be reported as stolen. Despite their lower monetary value, the theft of these bikes can have a greater impact on the victim, for whom their bike is often much more than just a mode of transport. When a bike is someone’s primary mode of transport, its loss can cause not only inconvenience and distress, but also loss of independence and significant financial difficulty.

Oxford Play Association – The importance of sport in the school curriculum and out-of-school clubs is well understood. By comparison, freeform play is less well researched and funded, and multiple issues including perceptions around safety, cleanliness and structure mean that children today often have limited scope to explore and play outside under their own direction. To address this, Oxfordshire Play Association are creating a research and evidence document called ‘Why Play Matters in Oxfordshire’, to highlight to local decision-makers the importance of play for the physical and mental wellbeing of children and young people. A second edition of the report will be designed for parents and carers.

Urban Music Foundation – Working with Oxford-based hip-hop artist Rawz, the Inner Peace Records collective, and researchers in the fields of Artificial Intelligence, Immunology, Technology and Literature, this collaboration has developed an immersive soundscape to help the Urban Music Foundation investigate people’s physiological responses to five epochs of popular music, from the 1950s to today. The aim is to understand more about the interplay between science, technology and human creativity.

Watlington Climate Action Group – This group is finding novel uses for hedge material from West Meadow that was felled as part of Watlington’s local habitat regeneration project, by extracting natural inks and pigments and incorporating them into carbon dioxide absorbing paint. The aim is to re-use the felled hedgerow material to generate environmentally sustainable solutions for use in the local community and beyond.

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