School of Pharmacy welcomes Cathays school children
9 January 2019
In the week before Christmas, the Redwood building welcomed over 250 primary school children through its doors as the culmination of the School of Pharmacy’s Science Sessions. This public engagement initiative, run by Dr Jennifer Wymant and funded by the Waterloo Foundation, Cardiff Council and Willmott Dixon, has seen science lessons being delivered into five primary schools in the Cathays area.
The project consisted of school visits from Dr Wymant and Ian Boostrom, where Key Stage 2 pupils were taught microbiology and the concept of bias through lessons and experiments. Lab books were provided for pupils to record their findings, which they then distilled into posters. The visit to Redwood was the final part of the programme, where the children were introduced to real life scientists, who gave talks about their research. The local pupils were also taught about neuroscience through the university’s Brain Games, and construction firm Willmott Dixon were on hand to teach the value of teamwork when working on engineering projects. Finally, the posters were judged by a team of academics and prizes and certificates were awarded.
During the days, the School also welcomed Sarah Merry, Deputy Leader of Cardiff Council, who very much enjoyed seeing the initiative in practice. “We really value our partnership with Cardiff University – and the work with the School of Pharmacy has been particularly exciting. I know the schools have valued the sessions and just as importantly the pupils found the sessions great fun – hopefully encouraging them to see just how exciting STEM subjects can be.”
Part of Science Sessions also involved the production of a videos, asking the questions, “What is science?” and “What is a scientist?” focussing on the message that science is about being curious, and scientists can be anyone. One of the schools, St Monica’s, helped in the production of the video, which will be used in future public engagement initiatives.
It is hoped that Science Sessions will be a jumping off point for further widening participation activities, and as such CPD for teachers has been built into the programme, empowering primary school teachers to deliver high level science lessons to their pupils at a time when a skill shortage in STEM subjects is thought to be costing the UK £1.5bn a year, according to a study from STEM Learning, the largest provider of STEM education and careers support in the UK.
Dr. Wymant said of her Science Sessions project, “It was wonderful to host the Cathays primary school pupils at Redwood. They’d worked really hard in the two school-based sessions and it was amazing to see how their perceptions of science and scientists had evolved over time. For some of the pupils it was their first university visit and seeing their excitement and enthusiasm for science and the university was lovely. I hope that through the visit we were able to show the children that science and higher education are exciting, interesting, and accessible to everyone.”