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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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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: • 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). • 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 @LangtonStar Many thanks