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The University of Southampton
Biological Sciences

You’re never too young to be a scientist

Published: 20 May 2016
Hands-on research activities
Hands-on research activities at Thornhill Primary School

Primary school children in Southampton enjoyed a memorable insight into science when Biological Science lecturers and students brought an exciting range of hands-on research activities into class.

The visit took place during the national Science Week for schools. The University team, led by Professors Lindy Holden-Dye and Tom Fleming, gave the nine to 11 year olds at Thornhill Primary a practical introduction to topics including evolution, biodiversity and development.

“We loved their enthusiasm, they were so hungry to learn and it was a pleasure to spend the day with them,” says Tom. “Our challenge was to present some lively experiments to make science come alive for the children.” Lindy adds: “We wanted the pupils to get an idea of what it’s like to be a scientist and inspire them to think about coming to University themselves. We all thought it was a very worthwhile outreach opportunity for us.”

Hands-on research activities

The children tried their hands at four activities during the day. They examined skulls from a range of animals including a dog, tiger and dolphin to understand basic concepts in evolution; saw how fly maggot locomotion was affected by gene changes in a model of dementia; learned how nematode worms react to external stimuli; and examined mouse and hen eggs and embryos to learn about the differences in reproductive strategies.

Thornhill Primary Year 4 teacher and curriculum manager Luke Elsworthy was pleased: “The variety of resources brought in by the University and the way that the topic matter was taught really had a positive effect on the learning in the school and it was a day that the pupils thoroughly enjoyed.”

Also taking part from Southampton were Dr Neil Smyth, Dr Fernando Calahorro, PhD students Euan Scott, Seb Shepherd, Pooja Khurana, Joanna Gould, Laura Caetano, Casey Morris and Jemma Knight, and undergraduate Emily Feist.

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