Calling on all secondary schools in Ceredigion

05 February 2014

Secondary school children making the most of laboratory sessions at Aberystwyth University
Secondary school children making the most of laboratory sessions at Aberystwyth University

Aberystwyth University is calling on all secondary schools in Ceredigion to take advantage of a grant totalling £30,000 which enables students to directly engage with practising researchers in subjects including biology, chemistry, geography, politics, sports and exercise science. 

The funds have been made possible via the Schools University Partnership Initiative (SUPI) funded and administered by EPSRC and Research Councils UK (RCUK). 

Known as SusNet Wales, the three-year initiative enables Higher Education Institutes to work in partnership with secondary schools and colleges http://www.rcuk.ac.uk/pe/PartnershipsInitiative

One of the schools to have already benefited from this project as part of a pilot scheme last year is Penglais School, which saw their A level students benefit from school sessions with lecturers from Aberystwyth over a six month period.  

Dr Elizabeth Hart, who works for the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS) as well as this scheme, explains; “The project aims to inspire young people, motivate students and enhance their experience of contemporary research. 

“What I found when I took a biology and chemistry module with Penglais students was that they thrived on hands on sessions such as experiments because they could see changes happening right in front of them. 

“We work with the school to establish the best way of teaching a module that ties in with the curriculum and we are eager to involve every secondary school in Ceredigion with this project over the next two years.” 

Aberystwyth University is ideally placed to develop such a partnership with Welsh schools in providing unrivalled opportunities for exposure to world class research coupled with the ability to communicate through either the medium of English or Welsh. 

Sarah Payne, head of the sixth form at Penglais School explains, “These sessions with Aberystwyth University has been extremely valuable to the pupils who have found the modules very engaging and interesting. 

“As well as being informative, the sessions have been fun and informal and the University lecturers have been very helpful and supportive of the pupils. To have this resource on our doorstep is a huge benefit to us and we hope to work even closer with the University in future.” 

Feedback from Year 13 at Penglais School has been excellent. Comments include;
“It was useful and interesting to work in a more advanced laboratory setting to get a feel for what research at University could be like and that influenced me to possibly study biology at a further level.” 

“I did the chemistry module and it was interesting building on stuff we learnt in class and expanding on that in a proper laboratory setting. We worked on biofuels and it was quite interesting to see the wider picture of how the work could be translated into larger commercial projects.” 

“The international politics module was interesting as the school doesn’t really have any subjects related to politics; however as I am eligible to vote it gave me a valuable insight into the way politics worked.” 

To get involved in this initiative, contact Dr Jo Hamilton (jvh@aber.ac.uk) or Dr Rhys Thatcher (ryt@aber.ac.uk) for more information. 

The total funding awarded to the Aberystwyth University team by EPSRC and RCUK for the SusNet project is worth £128,000. This allows employment of a Project Coordinator, funding for Continuing Professional Development for teachers and researchers and a significant proportion available for schools participation.

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Contacts

Dr Jo Hamilton
IBERS
01970 621526 / jvh@aber.ac.uk 

Dr Rhys Thatcher
Department of Sport and Exercise Science
01970 628630 / ryt@aber.ac.uk