Students had the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in ‘Science for Survival’ at the 12th Annual Schools Science Conference held at University of Westminster’s Cavendish Campus on Wednesday 22 April 2015.

Over 100 volunteer scientists and healthcare professionals attended the conference, held in collaboration with Science4u. The experts gave an inspirational insight into their day-to-day work introducing the different career routes available in science to 250 participating secondary school and further education college students (years 9-11).

After a keynote speech by Dr Sheena Cruickshank, Senior Lecturer in Immunology and trustee of the British Society of Immunology, students had the opportunity to learn about and try out scientific equipment such as a heart ultrasound (echocardiography), vascular ultrasound, heart rate monitor (ECG), lung ultrasound (bronchoscopy), foetal ultrasound on a model baby, sleep study (polysomnography) and lung function test (spirometry).

Additionally, students had the opportunity to participate in various science-related activities including:

  • wearing protective clothing for dealing with infectious diseases such as Ebola
  • observing parasites and blood samples under a microscope
  • navigating different kinds of wheelchairs
  • making their own skin cream
  • illuminating bacteria on their hands under UV lights
  • making DNA strand bracelets and learning CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) procedures from the London Ambulance Service.

The student’s also enjoyed performing different laboratory experiments such as determining the matching blood type for blood transfusion for the likes of Cheryl Cole and Harry Styles of One Direction.

Based on activities delivered as part of the BBC’s WWI At Home roadshow, The Royal College of Pathologists (RCP) ran an interactive workshop entitled ‘Blood and Bugs’ exploring medical developments from 1914 to 2014.

Safa Attieh, Clinical Scientist in Microbiology at RCP, said: “By 2050 10 million people will die a year because of the lack of antibiotics. We have to stimulate students’ minds to go into innovation and research so that they become the scientists of the future, solving problems like anti-biotic resistance.”

Each group of students presented projects undertaken at school or in science clubs - a requirement for participation. The Association for Clinical Biochemistry and Laboratory Medicine Don Henderson Trophy was awarded to the students attending St Augustine's Church of England High School. The projects were judged by Sue Alexander, Principal Biomedical Scientist at the Royal Marsden Hospital, Jane Lane-Roberts, former teacher, Rik Stratton, former film cameraman, and Joseph O’Meara, Government Affairs Officer at the Association for Clinical Biochemistry and Laboratory Medicine.

Russell Goodwin, Science Teacher at St Augustine's Church of England High School, said: “All of the students were extremely pleased with the result and there was a real buzz about the win and the science on the way home. Most of them are already intending to continue to study science, and this is a step along that road. Many of them are intending to do individual projects and apply for sixth form scholarships, and this has convinced all of them that they could be successful in their ambitions for university and careers.

Kimberly Gilmour, Chairman of the Organising Committee of Science4u, said: “The 12th annual Science4u.info schools science day hosted in partnership with the University of Westminster was a tremendous success with 250 secondary school students, presenting projects, learning about blood and bugs as well as visiting over 40 interactive stands where they discovered numerous NHS and science careers.

We are delighted with our partnership with the University of Westminster who provide spacious areas, excellent support and enthusiastic volunteers.

Based on the success of this year, we hope to continue this partnership.”

Students eager to learn about the different areas of science could also meet University of Westminster academics who shared their expertise with them, including Tamas Kiss (Bioinfomatics, Distributed/cloud computing), Liz Allen (Art, Science and Technology), Carol D’Souza (Malaria diagnosis and treatment), Caroline Smith (Environmental forensics), Niki Lawrence (Herbal medicine) , Salma Chahed (Health system computer simulation, Health activity forecasting, Health care analytics), Louise Thomas (Measurement of body fat, sugar content of drinks/foods, effect of excess weight on exercise), Dr Saumya Reni (Automated thin blood image analysis and Malaria diagnosis using mobile phones), Chrystalla Ferrier (Relating elements in the periodic table to their roles in the human body), Katherine Waddington (Psychology) and Ipsita Roy (Biodegradable and biocompatible polymers of bacterial origin and their use in biomedical sciences).

A selection of images from the day

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