Translational research – taking contemporary research to students
This project gave teachers professional development opportunities to engage with translational research at the Biomedical Research Unit and the University of Southampton to develop teaching sequences and resources that can be used in the classroom as part of the LifeLab experience. The involvement of teachers was crucial, as they have the expertise and experience in the classroom to develop relevant, usable materials that match the curriculum at key stage 3. The project benefited teachers directly and also those who can use the materials produced as an outcome of the project.
AIMS & OBJECTIVES
- To encourage teachers to integrate contemporary science and health research findings and methodology into the Key Stage 3 curriculum in schools in Southampton and Hampshire.
- To provide professional development in translational research and curriculum design for teachers from Southampton and Hampshire
- To produce key stage 3 teaching resources based on translational research; these resources to be incorporated into the LifeLab project and so be made available to many more schools, teachers and students.
- To pilot and evaluate novel ways for teachers to work with scientists. The outcomes of this work will be used to plan further work with teachers based on this model.
- Engage students with state of the art research that is conducted in their city and hospital, with a focus on understanding how their early life affects their later health. A previous pilot has shown meaningful changes in attitudes to health.
- Encourage students to consider careers in science and health-related disciplines. A previous pilot has shown meaningful changes in attitudes to careers in science and health-related professions.
- Enable students to learn about how they can improve their own health and the health of their future children, with the aim of influencing their health literacy and lifestyle choices, especially with regard to diet and physical activity.
Project Lead: Kathryn Woods-Townsend, LifeLab Programme Manager, University of Southampton
The first part of the project involved the teachers choosing a translational research focus. This was arranged through a research seminar during which they were asked to evaluate their level of knowledge around contemporary research, specifically that being undertaken at the University of Southampton. A number of research scientists from the Faculty of Medicine/Southampton University Hospitals Trust were involved. They gave a brief overview of their research and why their research is important to school students and lifestyle choices the scientists would want the teachers to be passing onto their students. This was followed by teachers choosing a focus and a phase of professional development and writing resources.
Funding was used to allow teachers a further four days off timetable to plan and write the lessons for their LifeLab module. By the end of that phase, the schools engaged with the project and had a plan in place for rolling out their module of work in the following academic year and had booked their LifeLab activity day. Once developed, the materials were delivered in class by the lead teachers. Following delivery of the classroom based lessons, each school participated in a LifeLab activity day. During this activity day, one of the sessions included was ‘Meet the Scientist’. This short session allowed the school students, in small groups (7/8 students), to have an informal discussion with two different research scientists. Following the LifeLab activity day, the students returned to school to complete their module of work.
The post-lessons focused on the students having the opportunity to design and carry out their own health-related science investigation. Following the completion of their investigation, the students were tasked with writing up their results as academic science posters which will be displayed at a showcase conference during the summer term.
- Increased teacher confidence and ability to identify opportunities for context-based learning in science at KS3 and to develop/select appropriate resources
- Continued use of resources in future academic yearsIncreased pupil engagement and enjoyment of science
- Increased pupil awareness of health issues in relation to their own health and that of their future children
- Increased attainment in relevant parts of KS3 curriculum topics
- Change in pupils’ perceptions and views of scientists and the work they do.
- Materials and activities generated from this project and the model used for working with scientists form the basis for current LifeLab projects with schools.