"Those who teach, learn"
Communicating science is difficult. Every day as scientists, we are working with concepts and ideas that can seem intangible to the wider public, yet relaying the significance and motivation behind what we do is critical to inspiring the next generation of scientists - desperately needed to address some of planet's most pressing issues. And it is almost impossible if we don't fully understand a subject ourselves!
“If you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't understand it yourself” - Albert Einstein
Leaders in Science (LiS) is an outreach programme for schools designed to engage more young people in science whilst developing leadership, communication and presentation skills.
Founded PhD student Joanna Sadler in 2015, LiS is now in its 5th year and has reached over 600 primary school students and 50 secondary school students since it began.
In 2018, LiS partnered with the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC) to launch the programme in Scotland. After a successful pilot year working with Ross High School, Tranent, we are looking forward to expanding the programme to colleges in Glasgow and Falkirk.
How does it work?
The programme is split into two stages over two terms. First, STEM mentors work with small groups of senior school students to introduce them to science beyond the curriculum through talks and hands-on workshops. In the second stage, we mentor the students through a process of designing their own workshops which they take into local primary schools. Alongside this, we also run debates and leadership and presentation skills sessions throughout the programme.
Whilst the older students develop valuable leadership skills and experience of working with younger students, the primary school students enjoy doing new experiments and are often inspired by the older students. Mentors also benefit hugely from learning how to communicate their science with younger students, growing in confidence as they take ownership of the programme and often see their own research in a new light.