Real World Science

Two school students in a park, examining the leaves on a tree

Contact us

To find out more about what is on offer for students, teachers, families or young people through Real World Science, or to be connected with your closest RWS partner museum for more information about their public programmes, please email:

Real World Science is a network of museums across the UK that use their natural history collections in collaboratively developed national programmes, to engage a range of public audiences with natural science.

Programmes from the network consider global issues on a local scale. We link collections and current scientific research with the science curriculums across England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and provide opportunities for school, family and youth audiences.

We put the public in contact with experts, role models and scientists, both in person and online, and invite people to contribute to our research through community science activities.

Our aims are to:

  • reach the widest possible audience to connect them to natural history collections and nature related activities
  • increase the number of students and teachers visiting museums with natural history collections
  • inspire further study in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) and build scientific literacy
  • support the professional development of museum educators nationally, raising standards of science learning in museums
  • support programming initiatives, increasing capacity and extending reach 

Current programme

The current public programme being delivered by the network is Explore: Urban Nature.

We’re asking people across the whole of the UK to get outdoors and get familiar with the nature closest to home. By joining this national movement in support of nature, participants will:

  • learn more about their local wildlife
  • take part in real scientific research to expand our knowledge of human impacts on biodiversity
  • take positive, evidence-based actions to help nature in towns and cities, for the benefit of people and planet

Through the E:UN schools programme we’re hosting training for teachers and workshops for school students ages 9-14: we need them to track and monitor the nature closest to home, become the local experts, help us observe and collect new data, and take action through science to make a real difference.

For E:UN community science programming we’re asking young people what they think the most important nature related issues we should be researching are. We will take these interests and use them to shape a huge scientific research project that we are inviting everyone to contribute to, wherever they are in the UK.

Previous programmes

Examples of previous public programmes delivered by the network include:

Dippy on Tour: A natural history adventure

From 2018-2021 the nation’s favourite Diplodocus travelled around the UK to seven of our RWS partners with support from the Garfield Weston Foundation. Everywhere the tour went, Dippy invited visitors on a natural history adventure to learn more about the nature in their part of the world. To hear stories and successes from the tour go to

Careers for All

Young people with special educational needs and disabilities are often left out of careers programmes. It means they can be unaware of the value and importance of STEM and heritage careers, and the pathways to pursuing them.

This programme at Leeds Museums and Galleries, initiated through RWS with support from the Eranda Rothschild Foundation, developed a new approach to work experience for young people with special educational needs and disabilities to break down the barriers preventing these young people from considering STEM and heritage subjects and careers. 

The Real World Science Leadership Initiative

This three year programme, supported by The Foyle Foundation, aimed to develop a new model of teacher training. Completed in 2020, it empowered teachers to shape lessons around students' questions, in close partnership with their local natural history museums.

It was led by Great North Museum, Newcastle, and was followed by a second iteration at the NHM in London. Teachers were trained in enquiry-based learning using objects, which enables children to explore scientific questioning behaviours and lead their own learning.

The learnings from this pilot informed our approach to teacher training delivered as part of our current programme Explore: Urban Nature.