- School/Institute/Department: Institute of Bioengineering
- Subjects: Bioengineering, Science, Outreach
- Audience: Schoolchildren
The bioengineering experience is a public engagement event that helped scientists to communicate their expertise and passion for science and engineering to young people. Children from St Joseph’s in the Park visited the Institute of Bioengineering and experienced real, hands on lab activities at the School of Engineering and Materials Science.
The event encouraged young people to experience bioengineering first hand. For example, the children learnt about the importance of cells, materials and engineering and why scientists and engineers work together in collaborative research.
The event also helped to change the children’s perceptions, who realised that both girls and boys could one day be a bioengineer.
Now that I know that a bioengineer is not a crazy scientist on a TV show, but can be someone from all ages, a boy or girl, who works in a lab to try and discover the body and learn more about it and even grow cells and cartilage to help people.
In the lab, the children played tug of war with a flexor tendon, they squashed biomaterials containing cells with mechanical devices and helped to dissect cartilage tissue from a cow’s knee joint.
The children then worked in project teams and learned how to make scientific posters in bioengineering, which were presented to families and peers at the school’s assembly and at an 'inspiring girls in science' event with professional women from academia and industry, the first time children this young had visited. The event was featured by The Telegraph.
The children’s posters were also presented at the Science on Stage international teaching festival later that month, hosted by Queen Mary University of London, with Laylah Gray (age 5 years) having the chance to host a bioengineering workshop with Dr Tina Chowdhury and to experience innovative STEM teaching directly from teachers at the festival. This gave the chance to engage teachers with the project and spread this model of activity to encourage others to conduct similar work. Pictures from the event can be seen here.
In the long term, the project will develop teaching and promotional materials for schools that meets National Curriculum requirements and integrate this with on-line teaching resources such as the virtual lab.
Events like the bioengineering experience are great for children since it takes the science out of the classroom and gives children a real opportunity to expand their horizon with hands on lab activities
Dr Tina Chowdhury, Institute of Bioengineering
You can find more information on Tina's blog including pictures and quotes from the children.
This project was funded through a Centre for Public Engagement Large Award.