At the end of 2017 Cardiff University’s School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences took their research findings into eight primary schools in the Newport region of South Wales. In a pilot study developed in consultation with teachers, we delivered a series of learning opportunities to approximately 350 KS2 students (years 5 and 6) of a cluster of 8 primary schools in the Newport area. The specific learning opportunities comprised a series of school visits centered around presentations, and experimental activities aligned to the curriculum and designed to help students develop a range of skills.
The central themes were the body and bugs, and the skin, brain and drugs. In the body and bugs, we explained the differences between bacteria and viruses and how antibiotics are developed. We also described how the university was working with honey bees to identify new antibiotics which could be used to combat antibiotic resistant bacteria (Pharmabees project). The essential role of bees in the pollination process was also described as was the central role these essential creatures play in ensuring we have food to eat.
The programme culminated in a trip to the university in which the budding scientists participated in a range of hands-on experiments, where they were able to see first-hand the things they were taught in their classrooms. At the end of the visit the children gathered in a lecture theatre where they received prizes for the posters they had created, reporting on the things they’d learned during Science Club.
Dr. Blaxland said, “The programme shows the dedication between the Cardiff University scientists and primary school teachers to help these children achieve their full potential. Increasing aspirations for our next generation to pursue science careers or increase their confidence to show them that anything is possible.”
The project was evaluated by Sarah Jenkins and Dylan Casella of Jenesys Associates in collaboration with the teachers and students.
“The feedback from students and teachers about the Cardiff University School Science Club was overwhelmingly positive. There is sufficient evidence to conclude that it delivered positive outcomes for the Year 6 students and teachers who have participated. The main success factors were the co-development process; the enthusiastic approach and willingness to listen to teachers of the University-lead; and the ‘real world’, contemporary nature of the science featured, particularly at the in-school sessions.”
The evaluation report recommended more funding so that other schools could benefit from School Science Club. They also noted that children were particularly engaged with the antimicrobial honey section of the course. They found that having children taste the honey alongside learning about it made the details more memorable. You download a copy of the Evaluation Report here: Cardiff University Schools Science Club Evaluation
When asked about what the programme meant to the School of Pharmacy, Head of School Professor Mark Gumbleton said, “Making science appealing and relevant to school children within a university environment only helps stimulate their aspirations and belief that a university education is for them, no matter what their background. As a School it has been a privilege to have hosted their experience.”
To download the Evaluation Report click here.