The SBRC recently organized a microbes learning journey with help from the University of Nottingham’s Widening Participation team, for years 5 & 6 pupils at Henry Whipple Primary School in Nottingham. The learning journey took place over a month with 3 visits to the school by PhD students from the SBRC. The activities carried out during the visits were agreed between teachers and PhD students beforehand in order to support the schools’ curriculum and showcase the expertise of the scientists, as well as excite pupils about the topic of microbiology and raising awareness of higher educational routes.
Visit 1: Each PhD student spent the whole afternoon with a class, introducing themselves and the subject of microbiology and microbes including the good/bad/useful ones. The PhD students also planned a ‘swabbing the classroom’ exercise, they helped the pupils plan the investigation and how to make predictions. The pupils then took a petri dish containing agar and swabbed a part of their classroom. Pupils decided what to swab, choosing books, doors, light switches, and much more! The PhD students then took away the petri dishes to incubate them and note microbial growth. The pupils were asked to research a famous scientist and present this to the group during the next visit.
Visit 2: The pupils presented what they found about their scientist and one group made a song about their famous scientist. The PhD students presented the class images of the microbial growth from the swabbing exercise and discussed what and why this could be seen. The pupils had a go at streaking out plates using our mock anaerobic cabinets and jelly filled petri dishes.
Visit 3: During the final visit to the school, the pupils had a go at making a microbe from craft materials with help from the PhD students. They also give their microbe a name; decided whether it was good or bad and where it lived.
The final session of the learning journey all pupils from the school that had taken part in the sessions earlier in the year came into the University of Nottingham and did some further experiments in our STEM lab. Each PhD student who helped out, ran a short experiment for the pupils; these included DNA extraction, microscope work and blowing up yeast balloons the pupils rotated around each experiment so they got to do all 3. After the experiments, the pupils presented what they had learnt throughout the learning journey to the whole group, they also explained which bits they enjoyed most and whether they would like to go into science – over half agreed on this. Finally there was a short graduation ceremony in one of the lecture theatres and each pupils received a SBRC microbes learning journey certificate, this also gave them one final opportunity to ask the PhD students about their studies and life at University.
If you would like your school to take part in an SBRC Microbes Learning Journey please email; firstname.lastname@example.org (SBRC Outreach and Communications Officer)
Organised by the British Science Association, Science in the Park, March 11th-20th 2016 in British Science Week – a celebration of science, technology, engineering and maths across the UK. In honour of all things science, the free event was held at Wollaton Hall on March 19th and had exhibits, activities and demonstrations from across the science spectrum and to suit all ages. More than 7,000 people attended the event, the SBRC-Nottingham and C1net hosted an activity stand called “Synbio Bugs”. Demonstrators from the group engaged younger children with making model microbes from Plasticine which they took home in Petri dishes. They went away happy with an “I ♥ Microbes” sticker and the message that not all microbes are bad. They also had a go at isolating bacteria using pretend bacteria made from Plasticene in our mock anaerobic cabinet.
Some half term fun was to be had when SBRC members Dr Klaus Winzer, Prof Brigitte Nerlich and Bart Pander became “expert witnesses” at Nottingham’s local “European Student Parliament” held in the Council House, Nottingham on 18-19 February 2016. This Europe wide project is coordinated by Wissenschaft im Dialog and funded by the Robert Bosch Foundation and Bayer Science & Education Foundation with aim of promoting scientific exchange between young people. It involves 17 local parliaments across the breadth of Europe from Cork to Jerusalem, with one at Nottingham!! In each parliament, students between the ages of 16 to 19 had the chance to discuss issues and questions on the overall topic “The Future of the Human Being” with experts on hand. In July 2016, the final 3 day event of the ‘European Student Parliaments’took place in Manchester as part of the EuroScience Open Forum 2016 (ESOF) and will involve around 100 student delegates from all overEurope. More information can be found here: http://www.student-parliaments.eu/
As part of the festival, The SBRC Nottingham held an outreach stand in Nottingham Central Library and in the Nottingham Broadmarsh Shopping Centre, here we helped the public make DNA bracelets using the DNA alias code to spell their name and also explained to them how and why we use DNA in Synthetic Biology.