Colleagues at the EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Regenerative Medicine and the EPSRC-MRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Regenerative Medicine have created the HEART: Healthcare Engineering and Regenerative Therapies outreach programme.
HEART is aimed at communicating regenerative medicine research to learners and the wider public, demonstrating how this research will ‘help the body to fix itself’. Workshops have been delivered in schools to learners of ages 5-19. These workshops have featured topics such as cell and organ biology, regeneration, the uses of cell-polymer scaffolds, the ethical implications of regenerative medicine and STEM careers.
Learners at Edale Rise Primary School in Sneinton, Nottingham said:
“The scientists are awesome.”
“I’m definitely going to do science at university.”
The HEART team exhibited at Big Bang Fair UK 2014, demonstrating how scientists and engineers address the challenges of helping the body to fix itself. This event was attended by approximately 75,000 learners, and the HEART team communicated topics ranging from the development of microcarriers for use in bioreactors to protective clothing worn in GMP environments. The team have since exhibited at Big Bang Fair London 2014 and the Bollington Festival 2014. Many of the HEART team also took part in Biology Builders, an exhibition as part of the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition 2013.
The blog www.heartblog.net has been created to underpin the wider HEART outreach programme. This blog is available as a Tumblr feed (popular with GCSE and A-level learners), a Twitter feed, a Facebook page and a stand-alone website, and features an ‘ask an expert’ function to allow public-scientist interactions.
Blog posts are created on topics ranging from career journeys for scientists in the HEART outreach team to current news articles in the heathcare area to descriptions of our latest research developments.
Postdoctoral scientists in the HEART team have also taken part in the ‘I’m a Scientist… Get Me Out of Here!’ and ‘I’m an Engineer… Get Me Out of Here!’ activities – X-Factor style competitions where scientists and engineers engage with learners to answer their questions online. Postdoc Alex Lyness won the I’m an Engineer Health Zone.
While public engagement activities are important for communicating research to learners of all ages, early career researchers taking part in and leading these activities can develop advanced project management, communication and networking skills that are transferrable into their long term career.
The EPSRC Centre also benefits from having members who undertake STEM Ambassador roles, passing their enthusiasm for research onto the next generation of scientists and engineers.
Visits to schools and to regenerative medicine manufacturing laboratories
The EPSRC Centre would like to hear from schools interested in engaging with researchers active in regenerative medicine manufacturing. We will be planning a programme of visits to schools in Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Staffordshire that can be undertaken by students ages 5-19. A typical visit schedule could include:
- A presentation by a PhD student or a postdoctoral researcher on topics in regenerative medicine that are appropriate to the age group and class subject
- Hands-on experiments demonstrating key science and engineering developments
- Careers or ethics discussion
We are also able to offer visits to our Loughborough University facilities for sixth form students. A typical visit schedule could include:
- A presentation by a PhD student or a postdoctoral researcher on the hot topics in regenerative medicine manufacturing
- A tour of cutting-edge laboratory facilities, guided by a PhD student or a postdoctoral researcher
- A ‘meet the scientist’ session – a chance to talk in small groups with PhD students or a postdoctoral researchers about their research and about the training they are undertaking
Schools interested in taking part in a visit are invited to contact us.