Inspiring the Next Generation of UK Researchers
Principal Investigator: Professor Sharon Huttly
Title: RCUK-SUP:Inspiring the Next Generation of UK Researchers
Lead school:Queen Elizabeth School (Kirkby Lonsdale, Cumbria)
Original project proposal
The proposed programme of work aims to develop a structured and strategic partnership between Lancaster University and the South Lakes Teaching School Alliance led by Queen Elizabeth School, Kirkby Lonsdale, as the Teaching School. It will enable us to address two key areas of Lancaster University’s public engagement strategic vision:
- Responding to the Region - Lancaster University is located at the centre of one of the largest regions in England, encompassing the largest rural county (Cumbria). This geographical location presents challenges for schools wishing to engage with a university, and for Lancaster University to engage with a range of diverse communities.
- Developing Early Career Researchers - We have a strong commitment to support the career development of our research staff and we wish to embed public engagement as an integral element of our Continuing Professional Development and doctoral training programmes.
Importantly, we believe this programme will provide enhanced professional development opportunities for teachers through research training, and increasing awareness of the role and importance of research and its relevance to the curriculum: it will train, support and facilitate our researchers in public engagement, enhancing their skills and personal development; for pupils and researchers alike it will highlight the relevance and importance of research both to their studies and their everyday lives. By bringing contemporary research into schools to engage, inspire, enthuse and enrich the learning experience, we aim to inspire the next generation of researchers. You can read about our launch event here.
Find out more about the Lancaster University-hosted SUPI project's EPQ scheme here:
- 'Research in a box'
- ‘Research in a box’ is a new SUPI project providing schools with the opportunity to loan out cutting edge science equipment from Lancaster University to use in the classroom on a short-term basis. The box is a loanable kit aimed at GCSE or A-Level school students that fits in with the appropriate curriculum and at the same time showcases resources used by university researchers. Participating schools will be able to book out the box and will be provided with support in the form of handouts for students, handbooks for teachers, online demonstration videos, as well as further visits to schools if needed.
- We are in the process of developing ‘Research in a box’ across LU wide disciplines, but we currently have ‘Lab in a Box’, the first ‘Research in a box’ to date, which has been co-created between LEC researchers and Dallam High school’s Biology teacher Kate O’Driscoll. This unique event offered students and their teachers the opportunity to learn more about Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) technology through presentation, demonstration and hands on activities led by researchers from Lancaster University during a ‘Lab in a Box’ launch event.
- Researcher in Residence
- The Lancaster University partnership with Queen Elizabeth Teaching School has provided an Early Career Researcher (ECR) from Lancaster Environment Centre, responding to requests for a Researcher in Residence (RinR) to enhance the Biology curriculum for 33 year 13 students and provide informal CPD for three teachers.
During this pilot the RinR has undertaken fortnightly visits to the school and been able to participate in lessons in a number of ways including presentation of their own research, facilitating other PhD researchers to visit and present their research, providing access to additional resources to enhance the learning experience, participating in lessons by working alongside the teachers and having time to discuss research developments and ways in which the current curriculum can make greater use of cutting edge research.
- Extended Project Qualification updates
- Sixth formers from schools in Cumbria have been sharpening up their research skills with the help of PhD students at Lancaster University.
- October 2014 – February 2015: 19 ECRs from Lancaster University were recruited and trained to join the EPQ mentoring scheme as research advisors.
- February – March 2015: ECRs visited QES and Kirkbie Kendal schools to meet with sixth form students to have group conversations about research skills and techniques.
- April 2015: ECRs and sixth from students continued conversations about research over Moodle.
- South Lakes Federation-Lancaster Chemistry Competition
- In April 2014, 25 sixth form students from across the South Lakes visited the Chemistry Department at Lancaster University to compete in the inaugural South Lakes Federation-Lancaster Chemistry Competition.
- South Lakes Federation Research Poster Event
- In July 2014, 24 sixth form students from South Lakes Federation schools visited Lancaster University to spend the day with research staff from across Science and Technology. In teams they carried out practical work and background literature searches on their chosen topics. Later on the pupils returned to the university to present their findings as research posters and talks to teachers, students and faculty staff.
- Early Career Researcher Workshops
- February 2014: The Engaging Researcher – delivered by Vitae, attended by 23 participants.
- March 2014: Introduction to Public Engagement – delivered by the NCCPE, attended by 43 Early Career Researchers (Lancaster University's overview of the course is given here).
- Teacher INSET day
- October 2013: Science teachers from secondary schools in the South Lakes School Federation visited Lancaster University to develop mechanisms for future engagement between teachers and researchers. The day included a ‘hands on’ session in the lab.
- October 2014: Following on from the first event in 2013, 36 teachers from South Lakes Federation Schools visited Lancaster University Faculty of Science and Technology to tour the departments and take part in hands-on practical sessions.