Public engagement events and News from 2015

I’m a Scientist, Get me out of here.

Richard Unwin was selected to take part in the November edition of the growing science outreach event I’m a Scientist Get me out of here. Supported by the Wellcome Trust, I’m a Scientist… asks teachers to select scientists to take part based on a one sentence description of their research. Scientists are then assigned to specialist ‘Zones’ for the two week event, during which the five scientists in each zone take part in a series of 30 minute web chats with schools, as well as being available to answer questions posted online by students. During the second week of the event, pupils vote for their favourite scientist, with one scientist voted off each day until only one remains and is named winner of that Zone. Richard was selected to take part in the Ageing Zone (funded by The Physiological Society), which attracted 437 students from 16 secondary schools across the country. He took part in 11 live web chats over the two weeks and answered 283 questions – more than any other scientist across all the Zones! As a result, Richard made it through to the final day of the event, but was pipped at the post by Zone winner Sara Falcone. The event was well received by participants, both students and scientists. After the event, Richard said “This is probably the best outreach event I‘ve done. By far the best part is the live web chats. Talking to a class of 30 via a chatroom certainly gets your fingers and brain working quickly, but it’s amazing how quickly 30 minutes passes. I’d recommend everybody gives this a go!”.

See these blogs for more detail: StaffNet and MHS News Hub. The official report of the Ageing Zone can be found here.

Science Spectacular at the Manchester Science Festival

Eight staff and students members from CADET hosted a stand at the Science Spectacular on 31st October. This popular family science fun day is hosted by The University of Manchester and Manchester Museum and has a wide range of science challenges, live experiments and interactive demonstrations. Our stand enabled young visitors to become ‘doctors for the day’ while they carried out a range of ‘laboratory’ tests to find out ‘What’s Wrong with Teddy’, as well as learning about our research into diabetes and its complications.

Widening Participation Fellow Kirsty McIntyre, October 2015 to July 2016

As a Widening Participation Fellow, PhD student Kirsty McIntyre will lead various events and be involved in multiple outreach projects. She has undertaken a 'Discover Day’ workshop with 15 Year 12 students learning about and doing hands-on experiments with various Drosophila mutants. She has run a workshop for the 'Charlotte Beswick Medicine Day’ - a chance for students to learn more about John Charnley, the development of modern hip replacement and the need for collaboration in science.

School-University Partnership Initiative (SUPI)

After undertaking training, one of our PhD students Kirsty McIntyre pitched for and received funding for her project in January. She then delivered two hour workshops to two groups of around 25 Year 9 students at Cheadle Hulme High school in October.

British Heart Foundation Red Box event

On September 25th in London, Amy Watkins and four fellow PhD students represented Manchester at The Red Box event hosted by the British Heart Foundation. They helped visitors to find out their own heart rates with pulse oximeters and learn how hard the muscle works by trying to squeeze a sponge at the same rate. Members of the public were also invited to match animals to their heart rates, and were given a visual demonstration of the effects of atherosclerosis using a model that showed blood cells being obstructed by plaques.

The Brilliant Club

From July to September, Kirsty McIntyre, one of our PhD students, was involved in The Brilliant Club, where she tutored eight Year 12 students from Thornleigh Salesian College, Bolton for six sessions. She designed a course based on university-style learning on physiology and the placenta. Students completed weekly assignments developing various written and transferable skills, finishing with a 2,000 word assignment before attending a ‘Graduation Ceremony' in September. Two of the students then came to shadow her in the laboratory for two days.

Royal Society public engagement award

Richard Unwin was successful in obtaining  a Royal Society Partnership Grant with Denise Heaton, Key Stage 2 curriculum lead at Arlies Community Primary School in Stalybridge to develop a series of science-themed activities based around the topic of ‘Lifestyle, Health and Disease’ for the school’s new science week in March. During the week, Richard visited the school to run practical classes, where KS2 pupils dissected cow hearts to learn about how they worked and KS1 pupils were ‘doctors for the day’ performing experiments on Teddy’s ‘blood’ and ‘urine’ to help diagnose diabetes.  Later in the week, pupils from Year 5 ran a Science Fair with stands about taste and vision, the skeleton, the heart, how organs functioned together, and extracting your own DNA. The Fair continued after school with 80 parents coming along. Overall the week was a huge success with very positive returns from questionnaires.

See these blogs for more detail: School Science Week Success and Success in PE award

Making a Difference Award for Social Responsibility 2015 – The University of Manchester

We were awarded a Commendation for our PPI/E animations. These were created as a resource for various audiences and for events such as Science Festivals and A-level Study Days, or for patients who have been asked to donate samples for research or to take part in clinical trials. The four short videos explain the basics of mass spectrometry, biomarkers and clinical trials along with introducing CADET.