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Monmouth pupils gain University insight

29 November 2010

Monmouth pupils

Monmouth A level students swapped the classroom for the laboratory to experience life as a University science student.

Every term over 40 pupils from schools across Monmouthshire have the chance to visit some of the University’s laboratories to gain first-hand experience of conducting scientific experiments in the physical and life sciences.

"The Monmouth Science Initiative offers students a fantastic and unique opportunity to gain a real insight into both undergraduate and research-based work under the guidance of experienced staff at Cardiff University," according to Dr Ken Wann, Welsh School of Pharmacy, who coordinates the visits.

"We are pleased that we are able to work so closely with the Schools in order to provide an experience that goes beyond the normal limits of A level work. The scheme has been met with great enthusiasm by both the pupils and teachers taking part," he added.

The visit is a key part of the Monmouth Science Initiative, a project which brings together schools across the County to help encourage the next generation of scientists, engineers, health care professionals and pharmacists.

Those with an interest in pharmacy had the opportunity to visit the School of Pharmacy’s state-of-the-art facilities, which the University hopes will become a centre of excellence for the sterile preparation of medicines.

The Monmouth Science Initiative was first launched by Monmouth School (Boys 11 to 18) in the academic year 2008/09 by Dr Alan Francis, head of Biology, and following a successful first year, was extended to include pupils from six schools in the Monmouth area.

This year, the schools taking part are Monmouth School, Haberdashers’ Monmouth School for Girls, Monmouth Comprehensive School, St Alban’s R.C. High School, Chepstow Comprehensive School and Newent Community College.

Dr Alan Francis explained, "The Monmouth Science Initiative was founded to make science exciting. The scheme allows pupils to conduct experiments and carry out research which goes beyond the A level curriculum, helping students gain a real insight into undergraduate work and hopefully encouraging them to consider a career in this field. The Monmouth Science Initiative supports the Welsh Assembly’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) agenda, and we are very pleased to be able to open up the facilities at Monmouth School to other local schools."

"I would like to thank staff at Cardiff University and my colleagues; Emma Barson and Keith Moseley of Monmouth School; and Linda Woodburn and Madeleine Newcomb of Haberdashers’ Monmouth School. Without their commitment and dedication to MSI, none of this would be possible."

The pupils with teaching staff meet on Wednesday afternoons at Monmouth School to do experimental work in physics, chemistry and biology which provides challenges beyond the A level curriculum.

Once a term the students visit Cardiff University where they experience lab work at a university level in Engineering, Chemistry, Pharmacy, Biosciences and Medicine.

Professor Peter Blood, School of Physics and Astronomy, who helped establish the partnership between the University and Monmouth boys’ School, said: "This is an important stage in the educational lives of young people and we hope that by demonstrating the challenges and excitement which science offers we encourage more students to take up careers in science.

"The university is also pleased to be able to support science teachers from a range of schools through this initiative and give our own staff greater contact with those teaching science in schools."

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