Outreach at Loreto Grammar School

Guest post by Kate Hammond

On 10th July 10th  I visited Loreto Grammar School in Altrincham to talk to the year 10 and 12 students about studying biology at university and the careers it can lead you on to. I was made very welcome, thank you Loreto, and had a great time meeting the students who were so interested and asked great questions. I also had great fun playing with the interactive white board – who knew Powerpoint could be that much fun. I really, really want one of those!

Summer School

summer schools

On 30th June 2015 the School of Life Sciences took part in the Health and Life Sciences Summer School, organised by Educational Opportunities. We ran two sessions for the visiting year 10 students, who all came from local schools.

The pupils visited the campus for three days to experience and explore courses, undertake activities and learn about future career paths within each Faculty area.

Terry Gleave organised a physiology based session. Kate Hammond, Yvonne Allen, Tom Price, Jenny Hodgson and undergraduate Meg Booth organised a series of short activities: extracting DNA from fruit, exploring the anatomy of the brain and observing fruit fly behaviour to answer the question “do drunk fruit flies have sex more often?” The prize for quote of the day goes to the student who asked “So how do you get the fruit flies bevvied?”!

As well as spending time with university academic staff and undergraduates, the pupils also spent two nights in university accommodation to experience independent living for the first time.

The Summer Schools received a lot of very positive feedback from participants who commented on how much they enjoyed the residential experience, the friendliness of the staff and students they met and how it made them think further about applying to university.

Crystallography for Knowsley students

On the 14th July a group of students from Knowsley School visited the School of Life Sciences to take part in a morning of crystallography based activities. The day started off with an introduction to crystallography from Sam Horrell, PhD student in the IIB. The students then took part in a variety of practical activities in the labs with Sam Horrell, Any Eacock, Jens Thomas, Ben Murray and Kate Hammond before getting an introduction to studying Biology at University from Kate. A tour of the IIB research labs from Prof Alan McCarthy, Sam and Amy rounded off the day.


The Big Bang North West

The Big Bang Near Me is a programme of events that get young people excited about science, technology, engineering and maths.  The Big Bang North West, organised by MerseySTEM, took place yesterday, Wednesday 8th of July, with nearly 6000 thousands children coming to Aintree Racecourse to visit a number of exhibitions from a variety of parners, and to present their own scientific projects as part of the national science+engineering competition.

The School of Life Sciences and the Institute of Integrative Biology staff and students were present and supporting the event in a variety of ways. So many in fact that this post will remain for a few days “in construction”: I hope that colleagues will give more details of their involvement in the comments section and I will update the post as needed!

Institute of Integrative Biology Exhibit

Daria Pastock, Chris Corbin, Amy Eacok

In the comments section, please add details of the activities that were on the stand and the people involved, thanks!

Project Patient 0

Beth Levick, Cassandra Raby, and Amanda Minter.

Beth and her team ran an amazing project on infection spread. In the end, they had 120 individual participants recorded over 40 different groups. They are planning to do further analysis of the data so watch this space!

Beth, let me know in the comments everyone who was involved, the number of people infected, etc (feel free also to write a separate post just about this project if you wish!).

Judge of the NSEC regional heat competition

Raphaël Lévy 

I had been invited by former student Zoe Chapman, communication officer for MerseySTEM to judge projects. It was good fun. I learnt about black holes, hydrophobic coatings, the hydrodynamics of cycle helmets, throrium as the future (?)of energy production, and a few essential science tricks to survive in case of an (infectious) apocalypse.

The judging team:

Aquaponics Jens Thomas, Paul Myers and Dan Groom

Jens, Paul and Dan  from Farm Urban had a beautiful stand next to the main stage showing off their new @VydroFarm growing system and demonstrating their “Build Your Own” aquaponics systems for schools. Although the VydroFarm can grow 140 lettuces every 28 days and glows a psychedelic pink with its full spectrum Valoya grow lights, it had trouble competing with fishy and fishy; the two goldfish in our aquaponics system named by Paul’s two-year old daughter. It was a great day and we had a tremendous amount of interest in our systems and workshops. During our spare time we learnt how to milk a cow, extract DNA from strawberry’s and discussed the potential mechanisms through which caterpillars may change colour.

‘Meet the Future You’

Kate Hammond

Kate Hammond took part in the ‘Meet the Future You’ event organised by Tomorrows Engineers. Students got the chance to quiz a group of STEM professionals about our careers, including Kate (a lecturer in Genetics and Molecular Biology), an engineer from Landrover and Sarah who designs nuclear reactors for submarines (very cool!). The students asked us everything from what we do each day, to what inspired us to take up our career to, most crucially, how much we get paid.

Kate Hammond at the

Kate Hammond at the “Meet the Future You” event #BigBangNW

Life Sciences Outreach Society

Juhi Gupta, Hannah Sharp, Lauren Evans, Sapphire Rogers, Ant Smith, Amal Abdulkadhir, Hannah Smallwood and Amy Gillespie. Dr Hammond helped with the set up of the workshops.

Children at the Life Sciences stall at the Big Bang North West

Children at the Life Sciences stall at the Big Bang North West

Juhi says:

Us students from the Life Sciences Outreach Society joined in with the fun and excitement at this year’s fantastic Big Bang Fair! Returning for a second year, with the DNA Sweet Models and Strawberry DNA extraction workshops, we inspired yet more merseyside pupils. We got lots of great feedback from both the staff and pupils intrigued by our science – we certainly had lots of fun too!