Active Science – inspiring the next generation of scientists through sports

As the home to our new global headquarters and with more than 2,000 of our people working and living in and around the area, Cambridge is an important city to AstraZeneca.

We are passionate about contributing to the local community here and committed to supporting the growing science base in the area.

In 2016, we launched a new health and science education initiative with the local Cambridge United Community Trust (CUCT). The programme, called Active Science, forms part of CUTC’s existing school sports programme and aims to promote health, education and wellbeing among school children in Cambridge.


Students performing experiments as part of the Active Science programme


Making science fun

The main objective of Active Science is to deliver a fun and interactive programme that combines science education with sport to increase children’s enjoyment and enthusiasm for science. The programme is aimed at year 5/6 primary school children. 

The Trust delivers Physical Education lessons and extra-curricular clubs to 60 primary schools across Cambridgeshire. By partnering with CUCT, AstraZeneca is able to expand the organisations’ mutual community outreach in an effective way that reaches children across the region.

The programme was devised by AstraZeneca, CUCT and some local primary schools, with the aim of both complementing and further advancing the scope of the national curriculum.

The Active Science programme is a great initiative that helps make science ‘real’ and relevant for primary school pupils. It will hopefully help nurture a whole new generation of UK scientists and support the growth of the local Cambridge bioscience ecosystem. It is incredibly rewarding to see the children get pleasure from the scientific experiments and to learn to think about problems in different ways. We look forward to engaging more young participants and sparking their passion for science.

Shaun Grady Vice-President, Business Development Operations

A wide-ranging programme

The programme features a range of different activities, including:

  • Heart, lungs, blood, pulse and diet: using heart rate monitors to learn how exercise affects the way your body functions, and the duration or intensity of exercise needed to burn off calories found in favourite foods
  • Running along a “corridor of cones” to demonstrate the effect diet can have on your arteries and heart
  • Looking at different cell types down a microscope
  • Learning to select the most suitable equipment to measure different volumes of liquid using measuring cylinders, universal tubes and Gilson pipettes.
  • Generating/testing scientific hypotheses over whether to use tape measures, trundle wheels or digital measures to accurately quantify different distances after javelin throwing or running
  • Using mini-parachutes to learn the effects of force on energy and running time
  • Q&A sessions with AstraZeneca scientists and Cambridge United footballers.

The Trust employs coaches who deliver the programme in schools and the children receive a booklet which is used alongside the programme for them to learn and record their results to enhance learning.  They also receive a certificate at the end of the programme.


Active Science students with the AstraZeneca business development team


Positive impact on the community

Approximately 700 children have participated in the Active Science programme during the 2016/17 school year and the feedback from both teachers and children has been overwhelmingly positive and enthusiastic.

‘I used to think science was boring but now I think it’s fun’

– Year 5 pupil, Bar Hill primary school

‘Children were really enthusiastic about the sessions and all eager to join in’

– Teacher, Bar Hill primary school

The programme was recently awarded the Community Partnership of the Year award at the annual Scrip Awards in November 2017.Organised by Scrip magazine, the Awards recognise the essential role of the life sciences industry in improving healthcare.

It has been brilliant to work with AstraZeneca to help inspire young scientists around Cambridgeshire. We were delighted to win the 2017 Scrip Award for Community Partnership of the year in partnership with AstraZeneca and hope to continue and expand our work together.

Ben Szreter CEO of the Cambridge United Community Trust

AstraZeneca and CUCT are now discussing how to move the programme forward into the next phase, including broadening the range of activities and expertise available to the pupils.

Find out more

The Active Science programme is one of a number of STEM projects that AstraZeneca supports in Cambridge. Find out more about our community involvement

Find more out about our presence in Cambridge

Find out more about the teams that support the Active Science programme

Find out more about the Cambridge United Community Trust


  • Partnering