Discovering Diabetes A-Level Study Day with CADET

Students working with researchers on the ‘Dragons Den’ task

Giving students access to the fascinating cutting edge research that happens at the University of Manchester is a key priority for the Secondary and Post-16 science programme at Manchester Museum.  So when i was approcached by Elizabeth Pawson, a postdoctoral researcher in a research instutite called CADET (Centre for Advanced Discovery and Experimental Therapeutics) to help them develop an A-Level Study day about their research on diabetes i jumped at the chance.  Below is a blog post written by Lizz about their experience and the study day which took place on 18th October:

14 members of CADET (ranging from PhD students to professors) took part in the first Discovering Diabetes Study Day on October 18th. The study day, which was developed and designed by researchers at CADET, in collaboration with Alexa at Manchester Museum, to specifically complement the A ‘Level syllabus and was attended by AS and A2 Level students from Cardinal Newman College in Preston and Salford City College.  The study day enabled students to find out about diabetes, diabetic complications and how diabetes research is carried out whilst working closely with the range of scientists and clinicians who work at CADET.

Students presenting their 'pitch' to the DragonsAfter an opening talk which introduced the students to diabetes and to the role of CADET within the University, the students then participated in a “Dragons’ Den” style activity. In this the students worked in small groups and learned about different secondary complications of diabetes, how they are investigated at CADET and how scientific research is funded. They then had to pitch for future funding for research into the different complications, with the chance of winning £1 million. As shown by the evaluation at the end of the study day, the students very much enjoyed this activity and as such were very vocal during the pitching process! They were also very interested in learning about how academic research is conducted and felt that this session provided them with new insights into scientific research careers.

In a second activity the students were taught about the different technologies that CADET scientists use regularly as part of their research. The students had a work book of data and analysed results from a series of experiments with the aim of identifying biomarkers of importance in diabetes. They then had to decide which molecules could be potential future therapeutic agents and justify future research into their role in the disease.

Winning group

Evaluations carried out at the end of the day showed that the over 90% of the students felt the day directly contributed to what they were learning in college and felt that had a better understanding of diabetes research. In addition they were keen to study science at degree level and found the interactions with the scientists a useful and invaluable experience. Moreover the staff who attended with the students recommended that the day is repeated again next year. The researchers at CADET thoroughly enjoyed themselves too, and are currently working on extending the study day so that more students can attend. Then next day is scheduled for March 2013 and will hopefully become a regular, biannual event.

Researchers from CADET

 Some comments from students who attended the day:

“ ..Really enjoyed the Dragons’ Den session as it was a good insight into the real scientific world”

“..New found knowledge was very interesting and relevant to my future interests and courses…”

“The workbooks will be very useful in future study”

 “I not only learnt about the effects of diabetes but also about how funding is gained for research”

 “I learnt a lot and would really like to do more events like this”

“Everyone is nice and helpful”

“It was fun, hopefully coming back soon”

 “I really enjoyed working with scientists and asking them questions, that was the most important and interesting part”

Working with scientists investigating biomarkers of diabetes

Our engage with the experts A-Level Study days are always very popular and this one was no different.  It was fully booked within a couple of days of the date being advertised on the website!  We are delighted to annouce that we will be running it again on 21st March 2012, so if you would like to give your students the opportunity to take part and work with the scientists, please do get in touch.

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