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Leaders in Science - the story so far

Rachel Clarke

11 Dec 2019

Leaders in Science (LiS) is a long-term outreach programme that cascades IB knowledge from PhD students to high school students and in turn to primary school pupils increasing the science capital of teachers and pupils, whilst embodying the “Those who teach, learn” mantra.

The IBioIC Skills team have partnered with programme founder Dr Jo Sadler (University of Edinburgh) and Ross High, East Lothian to pilot the scheme in Scotland as part of the school’s S6 “Working with Others” programme. The first term has seen the PhD students deliver sessions on Global Health – Drugs and Vaccines as well as Food Security - Genetic Modification and the Ross High students are now deciding on the key messages they want to deliver to the younger children. Nailing the “purpose” of the primary school sessions is the first step in planning a quality engagement intervention.

“I chose this class as I have an interest in Science and would have loved to have workshops about it in Primary School myself. In the initial sessions we have looked at communicating using simple and understandable words, and the team working and group skills needed to work on the project. I'm looking forward to working on our workshops and delivering and adapting them to primary schools.” Lauren, S6 Working with Others

“It is brilliant to see the confidence of the pupils grow during the sessions with the PhD students and to hear them discussing Science well after the session has ended. This is such a fantastic project to be involved in and we are all excited to start working with our feeder primary schools.” Jane Lockett, Chemistry Teacher
It’s not all about the science

Alongside the topical science content, IBioIC Skills Programme Manager, Rachel Clark has delivered sessions on Communication Skills and The Principles of Quality Engagement. The project planning elements of the principles saw the students contact the teachers in the feeder primary schools to find out more about the “people” they’d be engaging with. Once they appreciated the level of science knowledge and how the session would align with the curriculum being taught in February, they were able to complete this part of the planning cycle and move onto the exiting part – “process”. They are currently developing the workshop content, the story and interactive activities that will reinforce their message.

Science in the workplace
Interacting with the IBioIC Skills team and PhD student mentors is also an opportunity for the students to find out more about routes into science via the traditional academic route and the apprenticeship route to earn while you learn. As an end of term treat, the group visited Ingenza, an IBioIC member company that employs through both routes.

Our group was hosted by Fraser Brown, Head of Chemistry who gave an overview of the company, the multidisciplinary nature of the organisation and how projects move through the business. One of his team, Jonathan Selfridge, Research Assistant who joined the company in 2010 as a modern apprentice then described his part-time study alongside work, which has just seen him graduate from the University of Edinburgh with a degree in Chemistry.

Why chemistry?
“Studying science opens the door for a successful future career” was Jonathan’s take on things. He said his experience at Ingenza made him realise that chemistry knowledge is transferable to both the biological and physical sciences. Jonathan reflected that studying and working was a challenge, but the academic theory made more sense when he could apply the learning in industry.

Interested in finding out more?
Please contact the IBioIC Skills team ( if you’d like to take part in Leaders in Science 2020-21 as a PhD Mentor or as a school group. Find out more about studying IBioIC endorsed courses and research degrees on the IBioIC Skills website, and the SDS website for information on the apprenticeship route.

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