HSRU staff celebrate British science week with local school pupils

HSRU staff celebrate British science week with local school pupils

I love British science week!
As part of the 2019 celebrations, we were lucky enough to be able to share our love of all things science by visiting not one but two local schools in Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire.

First up was a visit to Arduthie primary school, where teacher Mrs Tulloch had invited us in to talk to the pupils as part of an busy week of science related events which were on offer for Arduthie pupils.

Later in the week we were also invited by Mackie Academy head of science, Miss McKenna, to come into the Higher Human Biology classes to talk about the real world of clinical trials and career pathways for pupils interested in finding out more.

Working with primary school pupils is great fun and so rewarding. Our public engagement group developed a mock trial called 'A Trial at Sea' last year for the Aberdeen May Festival last year and science week was a great chance to take the idea out to a local school. Pupils from primary 4 and primary 5 dressed up as sailors and set to work keeping everything ship shape in their classroom which had been transformed into an ancient sailing boat. But the whole crew came down with a terrible bout of scurvy! Acting as Dr James Lind, the Scottish doctor who is acknowledged as developing the first clinical trial, and ably assisted by Louise Campbell, we randomly assigned the sailors treatments of vinegar, seawater or oranges.
The pupils tried hard to complete their duties but only those who were given oranges returned to full health.
With this fun activity as a focus, we then chatted to the pupils about the importance of clinical trials today, and answered questions about our jobs in the Clinical Trials Unit at the University of Aberdeen.

It's such a great chance to dress up and have fun with the children - while sharing our enthusiasm for learning about science. There were some amazing and probing questions the pupils asked. There are some budding scientists in the making!
Fiona Smith, mum to Isla, one of the Arduthie pupils, said "She loved it. Told me all about scurvy and what Katie and Louise were working on."

There are plenty more opportunities for primary school pupils to get involved - 'A trial at sea' will be running again this year during the Aberdeen University May Festivals programme.

The visit to Mackie Academy was a different opportunity to showcase the work of HSRU to older pupils and talk about some of our own career pathways. Secondary school pupils can find it so hard to find a career path that interests them. We're keen to show them the variety of roles that are involved in our multidisciplinary teams in HSRU and make them excited about new possibilities.
It was great to get to chat to the pupils and forge links with our local schools. We've lots of exciting ideas to work with the pupils to help public understanding of clinical trials.
Heidi Gardner and I spent some time talking about our day to day work and the teams we work with across the UK. They saw the wide variety of clinical trials conducted in the Clinical trials unit.
Next we're hoping to have some of the pupils come and get some experience of our work first hand by visiting the unit. Watch this space!

If you're interested in finding out more about our research or the work we are doing to engage and educate local school pupils please get in touch - k.banister@abdn.ac.uk

Author - Katie Banister

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