VULNERABLE children across the UK have received almost 5,000 science kits thanks to an Oxfordshire woman's business.

Based in Eynsham, Renee Watson founded The Curiosity Box four years ago on a mission to engage more children with science and engineering through their innate curiosity of the world around them.

The scheme, a monthly science subscription box, has scooped awards and is designed for children aged between four and 11.

During the coronavirus pandemic, Mrs Watson is aiming to send resource boxes and STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) activities to 20,000 children in deprived areas in the UK.

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In total, that number represents 0.5 per cent of children living in poverty in the UK.

The Sutton Trust report on social mobility and educational impact revealed that after food, the intervention that will help vulnerable children most is access to non-digital, physical resources in the home - such as The Curiosity Boxes.

Using the relationships she has built with local authorities, Mrs Watson made contact with partners to see how The Curiosity Box could help families during school closures.

So far, nearly 5,000 STEM kits have been shipped across the UK to vulnerable children missing out on education during the pandemic.

Witney Gazette:

Children in Hull and Stoke-on-Trent have already benefited, owing to The Curiosity Box's existing relationship with schools in those areas.

The boxes are being reached to families via a food parcel delivery scheme and delivered at a heavily subsidised rate.

The organisations that distribute the boxes are funding that rate.

The kits include code breaking experiments and puzzles, and chemistry kits for children aged between four and 11, or sub age groups according to the demand of the location.

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Unlike the regular catalogue of boxes, these ones also possess basic tools such as pencils and scissors.

Mrs Watson is now in conversation with teams in Tees Valley and Oxfordshire to push the initiative closer to home.

She said: "I want more local authorities to get involved and more individuals and businesses to consider buying our boxes to donate, so that we can extend the reach and get people really engaged in doing something tangible and good."

Additional team members from the local community who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic have been hired to support Mrs Watson in her efforts.

Witney Gazette:

Earlier in the year, Mrs Watson launched STEM Day in a Box to try and get more hands on science activities taking place in state schools.

The boxes contained everything needed to run science and engineering themed workshops, and have included tackling challenges such as climate change, poaching and sustainability.

The latest box is a partnership with the Faraday Institution to get kids talking about the electric future for the planet, such as electric cars and batteries.

All packaging is recyclable or biodegradable as experiments arrive in corn starch bags, ensuring children can look after the planet whilst also learning about it.

The Curiosity Boxes are linked to the science curriculum and designed by scientific minds from Oxford University.