Out of the classroom and into the lab

Published: 30 March 2012

Two local schools have been working with academics from the Wellcome Trust Centre for Molecular Parasitology to learn about the world of microbiology

Academics from the University of Glasgow welcomed a group of budding scientists from two local schools onto campus to present the findings of a six month mini research project that is helping to train the city’s future science professionals.

Menacing microbiology hillhead Pupils from Hillhead High School and Hyndland Secondary School visited the University of Glasgow’s world-renowned Wellcome Trust Centre for Molecular Parasitology (WTCMP) as part of the ‘Menacing Microbiology Science Club’, which is helping to teach the next generation of researchers about microscopic organisms.

Dr Tansy Hammarton and Dr Sonya Taylor from the WTCMP organised the project to introduce school pupils to a variety of aspects surrounding scientific research and communication, from the laboratory to the newsdesk. The programme included introductory sessions about microbes, the diseases they cause and the scientists who discovered them, alongside laboratory sessions, interviews with leading academics, training on communicating research findings, and tours of the Glasgow Science Centre and the University’s Zoology Museum.

The project, which was funded by the Royal Society’s Partnership Grants scheme, gave pupils access to state-of-the-art labs at the University of Glasgow and a chance to interview both scientists and media professionals about their jobs, allowing them a first-hand experience of the life of a scientist today.

Menacing microbiology hyndland The project was supported by the Royal Society’s Partnership Grants scheme which funded the purchase of microscopes and recording equipment, which meant that pupils were able to observe and communicate their research just as the professionals might.The purchase of materials also means that the scheme can be repeated in future years, creating a legacy of science communication teaching in schools.

Just like a real research project, the Menacing Microbiology Science Club ended with the researchers giving a symposium during which the presented their findings to a panel of judges which included Maureen McKenna, Director of Education for Glasgow City Council.

Speaking at the event, Ms McKenna said: “It’s fantastic to see academics from a world-leading university like the University of Glasgow collaborating with local schools and bringing their knowledge into the classroom. I hope that projects like this will help to inspire the scientists and thinkers of tomorrow.”

Dr Tansy Hammarton, Lecturer in the Institute of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation, who coordinated the Science Club, said: “We were bowled over by the pupils’ enthusiasm and it was very rewarding to see them grow so much in confidence over the project as they gained new knowledge and skills.

“We were able to work with the pupils and their teachers over a 6 month period and during this time, the pupils were given unprecedented access to dozens of academics and students as well as University facilities.  As a result, the standard of work produced by the pupils was exceptionally high, and the insights gained by pupils/teachers and University staff/students into each others’ worlds were invaluable.”

Menacing Microbiology group 

First published: 30 March 2012

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