Keepin' it Real Keepin' it Real



Science is a fundamental aspect of our everyday lives. Despite its importance, the science that drives health policy is not always understood. In an era of misinformation, it is crucial to build science literacy within vulnerable communities and improve understanding of the role of science for society.

Our project focuses on Batley in Kirklees, West Yorkshire – an area that has been disproportionately affected by Covid-19. As attitudes towards science are established in formative years, we are working with young people who have the potential to act as agents of behaviour change within their communities.


2020 – 2021


Through partnership with two schools in Batley, our educational engagement activities aim to increase knowledge and understanding of the science related to disease control and to build trust with seldom-heard community.


  • To co-design and pilot innovative art-science educational resources for Key Stages 2-3 (ages 8 – 13) to improve children’s understanding of the role of science and scientists in the COVID-19 response.
  • To engage the wider community with the schools’ activities to build trust in science and to strengthen mutual understanding between researchers and the community.


In the summer term of 2021, Batley Girls’ High School and Field Lane Junior, Nursery and Infant School partnered with the University of Leeds to deliver an educational initiative designed to support children’s understanding of the role of science in society.

The Imaginarium takes you on a journey of discovery through art and science, showcasing the creative responses and reflections produced by years 5, 6 and 8.



Play Video


  • Dr Briony Thomas, Programme Director and Arts Lead
  • Dr Morgan Herod, Science Lead
  • Dr Shamaila Anwar, Community Engagement Lead
  • Dr Indira Banner, Education Lead
  • Frances Thompson, BA Art & Design, University of Leeds
  • Sean Martin, MEng Architecture, University of Leeds
  • Alexis Olubumni-Oke, MEng Mechatronics and Robotics, University of Leeds
  • Vineet Atwal, MEng Aerospace and Aeronautical Engineering, University of Leeds
  • Julie Haigh, Co-Head
  • David Cooper, Co-Head
  • Hazel Saxelby, Art
  • Alison Calvert, Science
  • Hilary Towers-Islam, Headteacher
  • Katie Hemingway, Year 5 Teacher
  • Tom Everett, Year 6 Teacher
  • Kacper Dobras, Industrial Design
  • Dinuo Liao, AR and Animation
  • Ahlam Abumughli, Graphic Design


This project was realised with the support of Dr Thomas’s Engagement Excellence Fellowship with the University of Leeds Public Engagement Team and Dr Herod’s MRC CDA Fellowship. Particular thanks are due to Dr Alexa Ruppertsberg and Shauni Sanderson for their encouragement and support with the engagement activities throughout the year and Mary Derrick at the MRC Partnership Communications Team.  

The in-school activities and the modelling and animations associated with this project were made possible thanks to the generous support from the MRC Public Engagement Seed Fund and the ESRC Impact Acceleration Account. The University of Leeds School of Mechanical Engineering and School of Education generously supported the project’s student internships.  

The exhibitions could not have been achieved without the photographic expertise of Lauren Bower, whose skills and knowledge were also invaluable in supporting the year 8 model making, and who patiently ferried materials between the schools. We are grateful for the support of Paul Ian Cross during the initial development of this project and for his support with early-stage contributions towards the structure of the programme.  

Thanks are also due to Rhys Moore, Tony Weise, and Peter Grieve in the Mechanical Engineering laboratories for supporting the fabrication of the coronavirus prototype, and who always go the extra mile to support our outreach projects. Finally, we wish to thank Tasnim Akhtar for supporting the Urdu translations for our parent communications, which helped us reach further into the community.