SCC 2014 - Schools and scientists: Doing research together combined

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Scientific research is a journey into the unknown, so teaching science with tried and tested practicals does not prepare students for the excitement and uncertainty of scientific discovery. Undertaking actual scientific research provides considerable learning opportunities for pupils and provides researchers with the opportunity to engage young people with their work in a rich and rewarding manner. Partnerships between researchers and young scientists can contribute to scientific breakthroughs and provide real insights and skills for aspiring young scientists. However, such approaches are not without their challenges. You will be presented with cases studies from space science and plant pathology research followed by the chance to engage in round table discussions with teachers, researchers, funders and science communicators involved in these projects. This will provide you the opportunity to discuss how you can involve schools and young people in research or support them to carry out their own scientific investigations.

Speakers: Becky Parker (Simon Langton Grammar School for Boys), Paul Nicholson (John Innes Centre), Sarah Calne (Wymondham High Academy), Chair: Tristan Maclean (BBSRC Inspiring Young Scientists)

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  • Scientific research is a journey into the unknown, so teaching science with tried and tested practicals does not prepare students for the excitement and uncertainty of scientific discovery. Undertaking actual scientific research provides considerable learning opportunities for pupils and provides researchers with the opportunity to engage young people with their work in a rich and rewarding manner. Partnerships between researchers and young scientists can contribute to scientific breakthroughs and provide real insights and skills for aspiring young scientists. However, such approaches are not without their challenges. You will be presented with cases studies from space science and plant pathology research followed by the chance to engage in round table discussions with teachers, researchers, funders and science communicators involved in these projects. This will provide you the opportunity to discuss how you can involve schools and young people in research or support them to carry out their own scientific investigations.
    Empowering young people to carry out scientific discovery and providing them with the tools and opportunities to contribute to solving the grand challenges faced by society enables rich and meaningful science communication. This is an emerging approach to science education that has great potential. The challenges to this approach reflect many of the difficulties faced in communicating science but it has been proven to be achievable by the collaborative involvement of pupils, teachers, scientists, science communicators and funders. This session will provide a platform for attendees to go away and build upon, hopefully leading to them facilitating many more scientific projects led by children and young people.
  • There are substantial benefits to collaborative research conducted through partnerships between schools and scientists. Undertaking actual scientific research provides considerable learning opportunities for pupils and provides researchers the opportunity to engage young people with their work in a rich and rewarding manner. Partnerships between researchers and young scientists can contribute to scientific breakthroughs and provide real insights and skills for aspiring scientists. However, such approaches are not without their challenges. This session will explain the benefits of conducting actual scientific research and look at the hurdles schools face in adopting this as a teaching and learning approach to enriching pupil’s science education. Simon Langton Grammar School for Boys has established three research projects spanning space science, biomedical science and plant genetics in collaboration with researchers and funders. The Authentic research programmes at Simon Langton Grammar School for Boys enables young people to take part in sophisticated projects that push the boundaries of what can be achieved in school alongside teachers who are also part-time research scientists. This session will provide you the opportunity to hear from scientist and teachers who are involved in school research partnerships and discuss how you can involve schools and young people in your research or support them to carry out their own scientific investigations.
  • To enthuse and inspire young people about science; empowering them as future citizens to participate in public dialogue about science, and to pursue science-based careers
    Scientific research is a journey into the unknown, so teaching science with tried and tested practicals does not prepare students for the excitement and uncertainty of scientific discovery. Undertaking actual scientific research provides considerable learning opportunities for pupils and provides researchers with the opportunity to engage young people with their work in a rich and rewarding manner. Partnerships between researchers and young scientists can contribute to scientific breakthroughs and provide real insights and skills for aspiring young scientists. However, such approaches are not without their challenges. You will be presented with cases studies from space science and plant pathology research followed by the chance to engage in round table discussions with teachers, researchers, funders and science communicators involved in these projects. This will provide you the opportunity to discuss how you can involve schools and young people in research or support them to carry out their own scientific investigations.
  • What students don’t know is where science education comes in and is done very well by teachers. What scientists don’t know is research and this is where scientists are able to help. Just because students don’t know the answer does not mean it needs researching.
  • Take-all is one of most important root diseases of wheat worldwide. The name ‘take-all’ was given by pioneering farmers in South Australia where it was so severe as to result in no grain for them to harvest. Take-all is caused by a necrotrophic and soilborne fungus Gaeumannomyces graminis. This disease starts as a root rot, causing stunting and mutrient-deficiency symptoms in the tops, and progresses upward into the bases of the stems where it can then disrupt the flow of water to the tops and cause premature death of the plant. Take-all is arguably the most-studied root disease of any crop, but till now, nothing is know about genetic mechanism of resistance, and it is mainly controlled by chemical control, cultural control and biological control.
  • Many small grain cereals are important staple food for humans. For example, wheat is the third most-produced cereal after maize and rice. Disease is one of the major problems effecting the wheat production. Although numerous sources of resistance are known in wheat germplasm, knowledge on the genetic basis of resistance to many important diseases is limited. This situation is partially due to the complex nature of the wheat genome, which is very large and polyploid, and the demanding growth requirements.
  • SCC 2014 - Schools and scientists: Doing research together combined

    1. 1. Schools and scientists: Doing research together Becky Parker Paul Nicholson Sarah Calne Chair: Tristan MacLean #SciComm14Schools #SciComm14
    2. 2. Image 1 – Copyright The Pirbright Institute Image 2 – Copyright Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies UK Ltd Image 3 – Copyright Babraham 2010 Image 4 – Copyright Thinkstock 2011 Image 5 – Copyright Babraham 2012 Schools and Scientists: Doing research together #SciComm14Schools
    3. 3. Becky Parker (Simon Langton Grammar School for Boys) The Langton Star centre model Paul Nicholson (John Innes Centre) Super model fights famine Sarah Calne (Wymondham High Academy) Speakers
    4. 4. Patrick Middleton (Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council) Elizabeth Cunningham (Science & Technology Facilities Council) Katie Tomlinson (British Society of Plant Pathology) Facilitators
    5. 5. Thank you for listening Any questions?
    6. 6. What research projects couldn’t schools or young people be involved in?
    7. 7. How can you create the culture required to enable young people to carry out actual research?
    8. 8. Should projects be scientist led or student led?
    9. 9. Can you create projects that benefit everyone involved?
    10. 10. What would be your top 5 ingredients for a successful school-scientist project?
    11. 11. What outputs are we looking to produce?
    12. 12. Thank you for taking part Any final questions or comments?
    13. 13. Supermodel fights famine
    14. 14. The view from the scientist
    15. 15. Take-all Image source: G. Bateman, RRes • Caused by fungus Gaeumannomyces graminis var. tritici • One of the most important root diseases of wheat worldwide • Also causes root rot of barley, rye, and other related grasses • Causes root rots, blackened stem bases, stunting and premature death of the plant • Mainly contained by chemicals, crop rotation and biological control • Nothing is known about genetics or mechanisms of take-all resistance in wheat Severe take-all disease on wheat. Image source: http://www.agric.wa.gov.au/PC_92021.html?s=0 • Problems of working with wheat: • Large plant (up to 1.5m tall) • Long life cycle (6 months for spring varieties and 11 months for winter wheat. • Very complex genome (hexaploid – three entire genomes originating from different grass species). • Very large genome (16,000,000,000bp) not yet sequenced
    16. 16. Brachypodium distachyon (Bd) Bd: a good model for functional genomic studies in temperate cereals. •Small fully sequenced diploid genome (~272 Mbp). •Small physical stature, Short lifecycle, Simple growth requirements. Brachypodium distachyon. Courtesy of David Garvin. • Synteny between genomes of grass species (often) enables direct translation from a gene in Brachypodium to a candidate gene in cereals. (The Int. Brachy. Init., 2010. Nature)
    17. 17. Brachypodium distachyon is a (super)model to study disease resistance in cereals Image source: Joint Genome Institute – US Department of Energy Fusarium Head Blight Eyespot Ramularia Takeall
    18. 18. High-throughput method to identify variation in susceptibility to Take-all in Brachypodium Fri W/E Mon Tues Wed Thur Fri W/E Mon-Fri W/E Mon/Wed/Fri Peel Germinat e 4o C to 20o C Plate Inoculate Photograph Photograph
    19. 19. 200 accessions of Brachypodium from Europe and the Middle East. Q. Do all the accessions have the same level of susceptibility to take-all? Or: can a group of school students gain more insight into variation in susceptibility to take-all in eight weeks than all the scientists working on this problem to date?
    20. 20. Brachypodium project • Funded the schools partnership providing funds for materials (plasticware, consumables, technician time, cameras). • Provided funds to support teacher and student Introductory training workshops and Wrap-up seminar workshop. • Provided funds for multiplication of essential plant materials and on-line procedure video and data management protocols.
    21. 21. Introduction to the Brachypodium project WHAT? Use the Brachypodium model system to study resistance to a cereal disease. WHO? Sixth Form students from seven schools across Norfolk. WHERE? John Innes Centre + Norfolk High schools. WHY? Cereal diseases threaten food production and breeders need sources of resistance.
    22. 22. Bd project: Teachers • Teachers attended an introductory presentation, followed by a hands- on workshop to demonstrate the simplicity of the system. The schools: Wymondham High Academy (Hub school) Diss High School Sheringham High School Thorpe St Andrew Notre Dame Wymondham College City of Norwich School
    23. 23. Bd project: Sixth-form students • Students from all schools attended a similar workshop. These were the peer educators for each school.
    24. 24. Bd project: operation • 200 natural accessions of Brachypodium multiplied at JIC . • Sub-sets of 40 accessions and all experimental materials hand-delivered to schools. • A complete replicate set of lines was assessed for Take-all susceptibility at JIC to provide a single uniform replicate for comparison with data from schools. • JIC (Chris Wilson) produced a video and document detailing all the procedures (PN homepage ‘Brachypodium’ page). http://www.jic.ac.uk/staff/paul-nicholson/brachypodium.html • Google drive folder to deposit photos from each school and enable cross validation of data by all participating schools. • Publicity: Radio 4 Farming today, Royal Society Podcast, Eastern Daily Press newspaper, JIC website. • Spin-out: students undertaking CREST award projects, including an investigation of the effect of aspirin on take-all susceptibility in Brachypodium.
    25. 25. Bd project: Wrap-up • A wrap-up workshop was held in October 2013. • Students from each school presented and discussed their data analysis and conclusions/findings. • Discussion about future plans for knowledge dissemination (publication in peer-reviewed journal).
    26. 26. Brachypodium project - Summary Can a group of students gain more insight into variation in susceptibility to take- all in eight weeks than all the scientists working on this problem to date? Disease Brachypodium accession
    27. 27. Brachypodium project - Summary • Sixth Form students from seven schools across Norfolk have been exposed to ideas about food security (plant pathology) and plant/crop science. • Demonstrated the collaborative nature of modern research (the project might be viewed as a small-scale ‘crowd-sourcing’ exercise). • Students have had hands-on experience of real-life crop science. • The data produced is ‘new-to-science’ and will form the foundation of a manuscript to be submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. • Brachypodium has the potential to become a plant model for a whole range of school-based research (development, natural variation in stress tolerance, adaptation to environment). • Potential for extended project and Crest award projects and cross-curricular activities: science-arts interface.
    28. 28. The view from the teacher Sarah Calne Wymondham High Academy Norfolk
    29. 29. Background • I am a teacher of biology to GCSE and A’level students at Wymondham High school in Norfolk. I have responsibility for enrichment activities aimed at STEM sixth formers. • I have worked with Paul on TSN (teacher scientist network) projects during my time teaching in Norfolk. • I wanted to offer my sixth form students an opportunity to carry out some real science. • To raise awareness of the importance of plant science at a time when students are starting to make choices about university courses. • To working as part of a consortium of schools, including some of the more remote Norfolk schools.
    30. 30. Challenges Support from senior management
    31. 31. Challenges • Fitting within the constraints of the curriculum. • Obtaining sufficient funding to undertake a large collaborative project • Making sure that pupils were reliable in setting up the plates and gathering data. • Liaising with the other schools and the scientists (E-mail hell).
    32. 32. Obtaining useful data
    33. 33. Positive outcomes • Students were excited to be carrying out real science. • Students gained insight into the problems we face over food security. • Students were introduced to the potential offered by plant science. • Working collaboratively with other schools. • Data analysis. • Presentation skills at the wrap up workshop. • Inclusion in UCAS personal statements.
    34. 34. Where do we go from here? • Endeavour to embed the idea of real science projects into the school culture. • To utilise the school consortium to address further ‘grand challenge’ questions in plant biology. • Use the Brachypodium model to allow lower school pupils to ask their own questions. • Gold Crest and EPQ projects for sixth form students.
    35. 35. Is it worth doing? • ‘This was the most exciting piece of science that I carried out at school. Everyday I was going into school wondering how the plates would look.’
    36. 36. Research projects • Biomedical science • Space Science • Astronomy • Plant science and global food security • Particle physics • Plasma physics • Engineering
    37. 37. Peter Hatfield, Young Scientist of the Year 2009
    38. 38. CERN Us in KENT
    39. 39. CERN trip
    40. 40. Langton Ultimate Cosmic ray Intensity Detector uses 5 Timepix chips to monitor the radiation environment in Space
    41. 41. p
    42. 42. The LUCID Grid p p μ π ππ π μ μ μ eee
    43. 43. Pictured here with Larry Pinsky and Michael Campbell “It’s like playing at being NASA or the European Space Agency, but they’re not really playing, they’re doing the real thing.”
    44. 44. New MX-10 detector • Look at radiation • National RAY • Own developments
    45. 45. CERN 2013
    46. 46. Authentic Biology • Sheffield • Southampton • Bristol • Queen Mary, University of London • Kent
    47. 47. Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz FRS, Vice-Chancellor, University of Cambridge ‘Education is the process of teaching someone something that they have not understood before. Research is the process of understanding things that nobody has understood before. The brilliance of Simon Langton School is to take a flavour of the excitement I experienced and continue to experience every day in university life – the excitement of knowing what nobody has ever known before – and bringing it into the classroom.’
    48. 48. • Teach science • Relationship with Universities • Inspire students • Reinvigorate teachers
    49. 49. Contacts bparker@thelangton.kent.sch.uk www.thelangtonstarcentre.org @LangtonStar Many thanks

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