Edinburgh Infectious Diseases
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Taking malaria research to rural primary schools around Scotland

Researchers from Professor Sarah Reece's lab in the School of Biological Sciences are engaging with teachers and pupils across Scotland to talk about mosquitos, malaria parasites and body clocks.

Aiming to bring hands-on science to areas with less access to interaction with scientists, the team of 5 core members developed and tested a series of interactive activities that reflect the lab’s research interests in malaria parasites, mosquitos and body clocks. The activities span five modules, each focused on a key question about this research.

The activities were carefully designed to enhance teaching of the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence, with a balance between strengthening core skills and introducing pupils and teachers to new concepts from current research topics.

After many successful classroom-based sessions, the lab’s next objective was to extend the reach and longevity of their public engagement. Supported by funding from the Scottish Public Engagement Network (ScotPEN) and The Royal Society, the lab’s current focus is to provide teachers from rural areas with career development opportunities to run their own workshops. 

Teachers participating in training programme
Teachers participating in training programme

Public engagement

Utilising a combination of training sessions and ‘borrow boxes’ containing equipment and resources allows the lab’s activities to be run continuously and independently across Scotland. This broadens the impact of public engagement by empowering teachers, while building connections between the university and the many teachers and local authorities who run the activities.

Through collaboration with the Scottish Goverment's Raising Aspirations in Science Education programme, and the Dumfries and Galloway Council Education and Learning Directorate, the scheme has already reached over 1200 pupils.

Raising Aspirations in Science Education  

For the next stage of the project, the team is continuing to build connections across Scotland, extending the program to new areas. This month, the group visited Aberdeenshire, where they trained a further 22 teachers from local schools.

It’s been very rewarding to see this project develop over time. It’s good to see teachers as well as pupils excited about the science activities we offer

Dr Petra Schneider, Postdoctoral researcher
Members of the Reece team
Members of the Reece on Tour team after teaching L-R: Dr Petra Schneider, Dr Jacob Holland, Dr Aidan O'Donnell

Local programme roll-outs

While the nationwide reach of the programme helps ensure as many children as possible get the chance to take part, the team is also planning to roll out the program locally.

The approach (currently in early stages of development) would involve training sessions for local primary school teachers in Edinburgh (early 2024) ranging from delivery of “borrow boxes” to providing first hand insight to what it’s like to be a scientist.

This was the most fantastic continuing professional development session for a long time. I am super enthusiastic to get started and the pupils will be too!"

Teacher Training Participant

Find out more

To learn more about the modules and the project so far, visit the project website.  If you are interested in running activities at “your” primary school, watch this space for future announcements!

The Reece Lab on Tour

The Reece Lab

Public Engagement Funding Calls