This term primary and secondary schools across the country have started investigative STEM projects in partnership with STEM professionals from academia or industry. These schools are running the projects thanks to funding from the Society’s Partnership Grants scheme.

The scheme offers schools up to £3,000 to run an investigative project and the next round of funding will open in February 2020 – so now is a great time to start thinking about your ideas and finding a STEM partner. If you are interested in applying there are a couple of key things you need to think about.

First of all, what are your students going to investigate?

Students have to be involved in carrying out their own research and schools must demonstrate that they are considering the scientific method. But don’t let this put you off! The team at the Royal Society will guide you through the application, and unlike other funding opportunities, we will help you with your application at every step of the way. Each year we fund a wide variety of project ideas – in 2019, we have funded over 45 schools all of which are carrying out projects unique to their school. The theme of climate change and our environment is a popular area with projects exploring the future of sustainable homes, how drones could be used to reduce pollution and how plastic waste could be used as building materials, among other topics.

“It has been exciting to see the project evolve since September. The students’ understanding of electricity generation has grown, as well as how some key scientific concepts can be applied in the real world. In addition their teamwork and planning skills have improved throughout the process.” Partnership Grant teacher

As data science, machine learning and artificial intelligence become more prominent we are funding an increasing number of projects exploring these areas. Primary school pupils are discovering how computers learn, year 8 pupils are exploring how artificial intelligence could help to aid accessibility and sixth formers are going to be learning all about the Internet of Things.

The project areas listed above are just some of the topics and themes we are funding this year through the scheme. What could you and your students investigate?

“The potential to work with a research scientist has provided them with an insight into the world of academic research and opened their eyes to just how fascinating and diverse chemistry is” Partnership Grant teacher

When thinking about your idea remember, the key is that the students are investigating something. Your project title must be a question that your students are then attempting to answer through the project.

“I absolutely loved learning about how to use and programme the Micro:bits and coding our vehicles to move. It was amazing! Me and my partner worked so well together as a team.” Primary school project student

As well as your project idea, you also need to think about who your STEM partner is going to be.

Your school may already have links with a potential partner or organisation. However if not, do not worry there is still time to find one. The first place we recommend looking is your own school community. Is there a parent or governor working in the STEM field who could collaborate with you? If not could you approach a local industry organisation or university? More guidance and details can be found on our website.

“I will not be surprised to see some of those children in my undergraduate physics lab in 10 years time!” STEM Partner

Once you have your project idea and STEM partner you are ready to apply.

The next round of funding will open in February 2020. The application process is in two stages. Stage 1 has to be completed by the end of February and simply requires initial details about your project and STEM partner. Stage 1 applications then undergo eligibility checks and eligible applicants are invited to stage 2, which has to be completed by the end of March. If for any reason your stage 1 application is not eligible, we can send the application back with guidance and advice and you can re-submit.

Throughout the lead up to and during the application process, we can provide support and guidance. For example we can check your project ideas, confirm if STEM partners are suitable and read draft applications. More information can be found on our website including exemplar application forms.

Now is the perfect time to begin thinking of your project idea and we look forward to receiving your applications.