13 February 2023

Young people are using their creative voice for science

Emma Skeet works with science students at University of East Anglia (UEA) to gain skills for their personal and professional development (PPD). One example is VOICES, aiming to empower young people to use creative outlets to inspire discussions on important scientific topics such as climate change, raising awareness of how insects are in danger of becoming extinct due to habitat loss caused by climate change and other environmental factors, as well as celebrating the importance of insects for a healthy planet. UEA students designed worksheets for younger students to use at school and at home, raising their aspirations as citizen scientists and confidence in their voice to make a difference with climate change awareness and action. 

Emma: ‘Collaboration is key. Empowering young people to contribute ideas and have responsibility for project content to achieve successful outcomes gives them confidence in their ability to make exciting things happen and have a positive impact on society. I support them and collaborate with external organisations to give their ideas a wider audience. VOICES is now part of UEA Civic University initiative, UEA Project Change, Norwich City Council community hub LUMI, Sustainability Exchange (EAUC - The Alliance for Sustainability Leadership in Education) and The Arts Council’s Creativity Exchange for East Anglian School’s interested in STEAM.’

All poems and art produced by Norfolk children was included in an exhibition at Norfolk Wildlife Trust Cley Visitor centre last Autumn. The winning design, by Elona (below), is being made into an insect sock design by UEA Biological Sciences graduate Lucy Jeffrey, who helps save endangered species with her ethical company www.barekind.co.uk. 10% of sock sales will go towards funding work by Norfolk Wildlife Trust.


Elona: 'I love going to Wheatfen nature reserve to see the swallowtail butterflies. I entered the competition because the swallowtails are endangered and people need to know. I was really happy that my design will go onto the socks because it will help save the swallowtails. I hope everyone can keep seeing the swallowtails for a long time, they are so beautiful.’

Emma: ‘Working with UEA students from both science and creative writing with VOICES reflects the interdisciplinary teamwork skills needed in the workplace. They were given the responsibility of leading project meetings with Norfolk Wildlife Trust and UEA science alumni Lucy, who runs BARE KIND, and Tom, who runs NICEandSERIOUS creative agency committed to making work with purpose and impact, to help develop their ideas. 

In my spare time I use the arts to raise awareness of important social issues with my project SYSTA, so it was a natural connection to share this approach in my work with UEA students, using science communication and the arts. When I moved to Norwich I volunteered for Norwich City of Sanctuary and started their Arts Stream, working with local artists and refugees. One of the young refugees I worked with is now studying Biological Sciences at UEA. If you are thinking of coming to UEA to study science take a look at the magazine students produce, including an article about VOICES. If you are interested in using the arts to raise awareness of issues important to you, I run a small club every Tuesday evening in Norwich and look forward to seeing you there!’

MEET THE VOICES TEAM!! UEA students will be at Norwich Science Festival on Friday 17th February 10am-4pm at The Forum in the teenage area of the Millennium Library.