Over the past two years, we have hosted an A-Level Study Day called Genes to Phenotypes which was developed with scientists at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Cell Matrix Research in the Faculty of Life Sciences at The University of Manchester.
On the 5th and 22nd February 2010, 60 A-Level students from The Manchester College, Ashton Sixth Form College, Crompton House School and Xaverian College participated in the 3 hour-workshop (10am-1pm) at The Manchester Museum. The workshop was split into two distinct activities: a hands-on practical session entitled ‘CSI Matrix’ and an interactive meet-the-scientist event, ‘Matrix has got Talent’.
CSI Matrix’ involved the students working through a range of teamwork, problem-solving and analytical activities all based on techniques routinely used in laboratories, ranging from measuring bone lengths to identifying mutations in a DNA sequence, and provided the students with an insight into how to tackle research problems.
‘Matrix has got Talent’ saw five of the Centre’s research scientists, from PhD students to principal investigators, pitch their research to the audience and the students vote for their favourite pitch. Afterwards, the groups of students met each of the scientists to learn about their research interests, and questioned them on a very informal basis about their work and career. The students then cast a second vote, having met the scientists one-by-one, and an overall winner was decided.
Both days were fully booked well in advance, with schools and colleges jumping at the opportunity for their students to interact with research scientists and participate in scientific practical problems.
Overall feedback from both days from the students was great, with 98% of students having a better understanding of science, and 85% are more likely to continue studying science as a direct result of the visit.
Some of the student’s feedback from the day is shown below:
‘It was very interesting to see what careers there are in science’
‘I really enjoyed the study day, it was very interesting. I especially enjoyed having an opportunity to talk to scientists of a field I know little about and learn how specific diseases are diagnosed’
‘Today was very informative and enjoyable and I feel more motivated to learn science now’
‘I learned a lot about what science research is about’
‘ I found out a lot more about the careers you can get into with a degree in Biology and also talking to the scientists helped me find out about what their day to day life is like.’
The scientists also found the day really enjoyable. The thoughts from one of the scientist’s are shown below:
“Working with the A-level students was not only great fun, but really helped me think about and discuss my research in a wider context. Some of the questions the students had were both insightful and challenging, and I could certainly use their imaginations and ideas from time to time!”
Upcoming A-Level Study days includes ‘What Darwin Didn’t Know’ on 17th March 2010 and a Stem Cell Debate Day ‘The hard cell: considerations for stem cell treatments’ on 9th June 2010.
Further dates for Darwin’s Legacy A-Level Study Days in the summer term will be announced shortly. If you would like to book places on any of these study days or would like further information on then please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 0161 3061764.