Supporting teachers with bioscience careers and hands-on activities

By Rachel Burnett, Education and Public Engagement Officer

The Association for Science Education Conference is a great opportunity to engage with science education professionals from across the UK. The 2016 conference was held at Birmingham University in the first week of January, and was packed with fascinating talks, workshops and exhibitions from different organisations within science education. The Biochemical Society organised two events at the conference, Careers in the biosciences: supporting students and Experimenting with Storytelling.

Careers in the biosciences: supporting students

This event was organised by the Biochemical Society as part of the Royal Society of Biology’s Careers Committee. Our speakers discussed careers in academia, industry, ecological consultancy and non-degree routes to science. Teachers were able to question our speakers on their career paths, and take home the fantastic free careers resources on offer from the Careers Committee.

Experimenting with Storytelling

Exp with Storytelling1.JPG_RC edited

Our second event on Saturday 9th January focussed on public engagement, discussing the outreach activities developed by the Biochemical Society for educators, and the projects we fund with our Scientific Outreach Grants scheme. The audience were introduced to the Society and the activities we provide, including the 21st Century Bio Challenges kits developed with the Royal Society of Biology.

Next, Dr Sai Pathmanathan presented her outreach project ‘Experimenting with Storytelling’. This project was funded by the Biochemical Society as part of our Scientific Outreach Grants scheme, and aims to engage primary age school children and their parents with hands-on science through cultural stories, folk tales, myths and legends.

Exp with Storytelling3_RC edited

The first activity Sai described was Making Butter, where attendees make a small amount of butter they can spread on a cracker, whilst listening to a Russian folktale about two Frogs who accidentally churned cream to make butter. The biochemistry of how cream is turned into butter is discussed with attendees after the story.

The second activity Erupting Volcanoes tells the story of Pele, The Goddess of Fire, thought to live in the volcanoes of Hawaii. Attendees had a chance to even make their own volcano!

The last activity was Displacement of Water, where attendees listen to the Aesop’s Fable about how a crow makes water in a pitcher rise, and about Archimedes’ ‘Eureka!’ moment. Attendees can try out the water level experiment and notice how water displacement relates to the volume of the object displacing the water.

To find out more about how Sai’s project went, you can read her activity report. You can also download the Experimenting with Storytelling materials here and run the activities yourself!

You can also read about improving understanding of science through storytelling in the December 2015 issue of The Biochemist.  Elena Riva’s article on ‘The War of the Worlds and antibiotic resistance’ and Chris Wilmott’s article on ‘Putting the moving image to work in biochemistry education’ are both excellent examples of bringing together science and storytelling.

We would like to thank our brilliant speakers for their participation and fascinating presentations and the Association for Science Education for hosting the two events.

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