The Dundee Science Centre PlayDecide project has not only raised awareness of this excellent dialogue resource within the Tayside community, but also empowered individuals to be able to use it to facilitate their own topical science discussion events.
Our PlayDecide open night in September 2010 was aimed at raising initial awareness of the resource and the project amongst our local community centres. After some ice-breaking activities at the start of the event, individuals became more relaxed and confident to talk within the group. The ice breakers were followed by a PlayDecide discussion on orphan drugs, a topic that seemed quite daunting to some people. The evening was a great success - excellent in-depth discussion, with everyone having an input, and with the group actually coming with their own policy for the use of orphan drugs.
The introduction to PlayDecide was followed up in early November by a training event for those that wished to run PlayDecide events in their own community centres. The training covered general dialogue facilitation techniques and familiarisation with the Orphan Drug topic and dialogue kit. The community leaders were found to have some experience in facilitating discussions, however science was a topic that seemed alien to them so we were able to offer guidance and techniques on facilitating dialogue around the topics of the Orphan Drug and Climate Change PlayDecide kits. We found that everyone present at the training put forward there own methods and techniques with regards facilitating dialogue, so we feel we learnt from one another by sharing these experiences. This mutual sharing of best practice was an excellent addition to the project outcomes. As a group, we were able to organise and refine the role of the facilitator and identify when to use each different facilitation strategy and skill set. Very positive feedback was received from the community leaders involved in this session.
The final part of the project is for the community centres to run their own PlayDecide Events in 2011 (after concentrating on running their centre’s festive and New Year activities). The centres have discussed hosting the activity with a large age range (11–70 year olds), as this could bring an interesting dynamic to the discussion. We will support the centres with their events and will provide them with links to local scientific researchers for additional advice on the science content.
This project has strengthened our link with our local community centres in addition to providing them with the knowledge and skills to use this fantastic PlayDecide resource.
The results of the initial orphan drugs discussion was posted onto the PlayDecide website by Dundee Science Centre staff, and the results from other countries were shared with the community centre staff as a matter of interest. Those involved in the project have given very positive feedback about the training session and wish to build on the partnership between Dundee Science Centre and Dundee City Council Community Centres to run more projects together.