Millennium Awards: Science for Special Needs


I first heard about the Royal Society and British Association Millennium Award scheme at the BAAS Annual Festival of Science. I had been involved for about a year with a school for deaf children and thought that trying to reach special needs audiences, and being able to prove that I already had links with the deaf community, would give my application a good chance of success.

My project was to make a video in the style of a children's television programme. Some deaf actors (one adult and two children) would go around a science centre to show how science can be exciting and relevant. A lot of work had to go into the application, in particular to put a budget together. Through networking I managed to get a lot of help from people in the film industry, which was essential. The maximum amount for these grants in £10,000, which was very tight. I ended up asking for £9965!

As for most awards or grant applications, it took months before I finally heard that I had been successful. Then I needed to put together the team and discuss with each party the issues relevant to them (science centre, actors, interpreter, film crew ...). I wrote a loose script which was reviewed by the presenter and the interpreter.

Filming took 3 days and the editing 2 weeks. Voice-over and subtitles were added later. I obtained media coverage through press releases during filming and through a launch reception. The 30-minute video is soon to be distributed free of charge by the Post Office to all the schools for deaf children around the UK. And many more individuals and organisations have shown interest, so I am making more duplications which will be distributed at cost price.

This project has been extremely exciting for me and I have learnt a huge amount in many areas: science centres, film production, deaf culture. I believe it will be an important asset for my CV (not to mention all the contacts it generated!). This particular awards scheme is now closed, but there are other opportunities out there. So have a go, and good luck!

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