Guest post by Karen Reed (University of Cardiff, UK). This project was funded through the Biochemical Society’s Scientific Outreach Grant Scheme.
A level Biology students from Pencoed Comprehensive School have, for the third consecutive year, participated in a project which brings to life the work of cancer researchers based at Cardiff University. Through an engagement project titled “cells, genes, mutations and cancer”, Dr Karen Reed of Cardiff School of Biosciences has provided the pupils with the opportunity to participate in hands-on experiments, demonstrating research methods and techniques used in her research into Bowel Cancer. Simultaneously this experience has developed scientific understanding surrounding cancer development, whilst raising awareness of the importance of lifestyle choices on cancer risk.
The pupils visited the School of Biosciences in Cardiff for a day long workshop, and participated in debates and performed experiments within their classroom. They also hosted a lunch time and after school demonstration of their new found skills, communicating what they had learnt to other pupils in the school.
The opportunities provided by Dr Reed are seen as a positive feature of the Biology curriculum within Pencoed Comprehensive. Mrs Helen Roberts, Head of Science said “The opportunity provided by Dr Reed’s work is invaluable. It is great for the pupils to experience the application of the techniques, and the trip to Cardiff University is a real highlight”.
It is clear from feedback that participation in this project was valued and appreciated, and has sparked interest in the field of research. Rachel Johnson in Year 12 said “It was a very interesting experience which answered many of my questions regarding scientific research, and has encouraged me to pursue this field in my university studies”, while Lewis King in year 12 said “I have gained research development and career ideas”.
Dr Reed considers the prospect of inspiring the next generation of researchers “a great privilege”, and thanks all those from Cardiff who have helped deliver this project, with special thanks to Miss Madeleine Young.