stem cells in their environment

Science Week 2017 with Judith Kerr Primary School: ten budding scientists join the CSCRM for a day

03 April 2017
By Ines Sequeira

The last two weeks have been very special at the Centre for Stem Cell & Regenerative Medicine at Kings College London. In honour of the recent British Science Week 2017, we had the exciting opportunity to share our scientific knowledge with the young students at Judith Kerr Primary School. This event has been initiated as a long-term collaboration with their schoolteacher Patrick Murphy.

On Monday 13th March, four members of the CSCRM (Ayelen Luna, Ines Sequeira, Victor Negri and Ivo Lieberam) visited Judith Kerr Primary School in Herne Hill to launch their ‘Science Week’. Throughout the morning they talked about their research, discussed the current challenges in science and shared their excitement about scientific discovery. They then led workshops about stem cells and their roles in the body for the Year 4 and Year 5 classes. The visit generated a wonderful scientific buzz across the school as they embarked on a week of investigations.

On Monday 20th March, ten budding scientists from the Judith Kerr Primary School were then invited to visit the Centre for Stem Cell Research and Regenerative Medicine to become scientists for the day and learn on-site about stem cell research.

The children were enthusiastic and fascinated to learn about the development of tissues and organs, the various types of cells that make up different tissues and the function of DNA. As part of their activities they acted as pathologists by identifying healthy and unhealthy cells under a microscope in addition to extracting DNA from a strawberry. They were also able to observe the Watt Lab scientists at work.

At the end of their visit the children took part in a podcast in which they had the opportunity to ask some of the scientists about their work. We were extremely impressed by the clarity of the children’s discussion about what they had learned and the insightfulness of their questions was what you might expect from children twice their age. It was a truly extraordinary day and a wonderful opportunity to inspire young scientists of the future.

Our researchers were overwhelmed by the children’s enthusiasm and ability to engage with the experiments and complex concepts behind them. Ayelen Luna said "Personally, I find public engagement activities extremely satisfactory. Sometimes, as a scientist, we forget to put our feet on the ground and think about our responsibility of engaging the public with our research. Working with children makes you realize all the dreams and hopes kids have in science, and make you want to make those dreams come true."

There are still many 'dreams' to achieve in science and so by sharing our knowledge and enthusiasm with young students, we hope to inspire them to become the future generation of regenerative medicine scientists; and who knows, maybe one of the children at Judith Kerr Primary will one day discover a way to defeat cancer?

You can hear all about their visit in a special episode of our podcast "Stem Cells @ Lunch Digested!".

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