To engage young people with specific areas of MRC PPU research and support the curriculum through fun, hands on games in the classroom and local community settings.
- Tom Williams, Postdoctoral Researcher in Rousseau Lab
- MRC PPU researchers (testing and participating in sessions)
- School of Life Sciences Public Engagement Team & MRC PPU Public Engagement Consultant (development support & identifying opportunities)
- External teachers (curriculum guidance & feedback)
- 10 UK-wide schools (mostly primary)
- Delivery/outreach partners: STEM ambassadors in Scotland, STEM ambassadors, British Science Week, I'm a Scientist, Lancashire Science Festival, University of Huddersfield, MRC Festival, University of Dundee, Brightside Mentoring, DYW Ayr, University of Dundee, Angus Council.
Tom developed and published a large suite of cell biology games and resources with input from MRC PPU researchers, Public Engagement colleagues and teachers:
- Proteasome fishing game (2019)
- Bacteria killing experiment (2020)
- Cell Survival: Home version (co-produced with teacher 2021)
- Cell Survival: Schools version (co-produced with teacher 2021)
- Cell Life Cycle Top Trumps (co-produced with teacher 2021)
- Cell Survival Drive (2022)
- Cell Survival: Transport (2022)
Tom, with support from other researchers in the Unit, has used these resources to engage young people locally in schools and at community events and pupils nationally online, including:
- Local schools outreach: 11 schools inc. multiple visits to Fintry Primary & Baldragon Academy in Dundee, ~700 pupils.
- Online STEM Ambassador activities: 37 activities with 7,394 participants (inc. British Science Week 2023: 8 schools,15 classes, ~400-500 people)
- Building new relationships with local Primary Schools
- Supporting existing partnership with Baldragon Academy
- Developing relationships with new outreach partners
- STEM Ambassadors Scotland have included the games in their resources list accessible online
- Tom uses the Cell Survival artwork and materials in University of Dundee undergraduate teaching
- Approaches from researchers at other Universities to adapt the resources for their research
- Tom’s exceptional efforts have been recognised by internal and external commendations as well as these awards:
- Brian Cox Prize for Excellence in Public Engagement with Research 2022 Engaged Researcher
- British Society for Cell Biology Postdoctoral Researcher Medal 2023 (research award with 'community engagement and leadership' embedded and worth 20% weighting)
“Wow, so cool!”, “Your job is amazing”, “How do you tell the difference between good and bad proteins?”, “I want to play at home!”, “What do cells eat?”
Feedback from pupils
"Thank you so much Tom! All of the children really enjoyed this morning and are really enjoying the game," “It has inspired them [children] to consider science careers”
Feedback from teachers
- Working with University of Dundee Arts Masters students to provide improved versions of cell survival and cell life cycle top trumps.
- A sport version of Cell Survival for youth clubs (funding dependent)
- Cell Survival borrow boxes (funding dependent)
- Sharing & engaging further through STEM Ambassadors platform and Twitter.