Chiara has participated with other 7 volunteers from The University of Manchester in the school visit that took place on the 4th of July 2018 at Scarisbrick Hall School near Wigan in Lancashire.

Here is the team before the event. From left to right: Chiara Francavilla, Andreas Prokop, Eemaan Memon, Megan Chastney, Sanjai Patel, Ryan West, Joanne Sharpe.

 

We met 160 students from 8 schools at GCSE/A-level (ages 14-17) who did rotate through four parallel 25 minute-long classes which all used the fruit fly Drosophila as a teaching tool. We discussed a range of topics relevant to the school curriculum: (A) nervous system (B) ageing/neurodegeneration/statistics (C) evolution/genetics (D) enzymes. All classes contained micro-experiments and PowerPoint files.

 

 

Chiara and Megan (on the right) talked about enzymes and alcohol metabolism.

 

We also helped students with an experiment using the fruit fly.

 

It was great fun for us (and hard-work)! The classes were a great success, and we heard very positive feedback…

…from students

” I never really thought that a fly could be useful, but I see the potential now ”

“ Drosophila is an attractive organism for education as it can help pupils learn how science is applied in the real world “

“ They provide a good understandable way to teach biological concepts “

“ It was really interesting to learn about how genes can be useful in research to do with humans and other animals “

… from teachers

“ Students … chatted all the way back to the buses about what an interesting day they had and how they wanted to know more. … it really does make a difference to students at this age seeing how the fundamentals they learn in school are applied to science and medicine in everyday life and at university. We need to inspire this generation to become our scientists of the future and I certainly felt we managed to get the students thinking down this pathway. … It would be great if we could run a similar event next year ”

“My pupils genuinely loved the event – they got to experience hands on what it’s like to “be a scientist” and the opportunity to work with living organisms in a hands-on way, performing their own ‘mini-experiments’, was extremely engaging for them. I have already had pupils asking about the different “types” of scientist … and they loved seeing the bigger picture as to how laboratory research can impact human quality of life. It linked brilliantly with practical-based questions in the new GCSE specification, and I really think it’s inspired pupils to take a Science A Level. Please run more events! “


If you want to know more, Prof Andreas Prokop wrote a blog for Plos:

http://blogs.plos.org/scicomm/2018/08/15/how-to-communicate-basic-research-in-schools-a-case-study-using-drosophila/