University of Dundee

Scientists work with primary school teachers to introduce kids to a world of Magnificent Microbes

06 Feb 2014

Teachers from Dundee primary schools attended a Continuing Professional Development training session led by  Dr Nicola Stanley-Wall and Dr James Chalmers of the Division of Molecular Microbiology at the College of Life Sciences.

Held at the Dundee Science Centre, the aim of the session was to maximise the impact of the hugely succesful Magnificent Microbes outreach event, which in 2010 and 2012 set the gold standard for University Outreach activitities with schools and and the general public.

Teachers from Glebelands, Fintry, St Clement's, Dens Road and Newburgh Primary received training and resources to prepare them to teach their P6 and P7 classes all about microbes and how they are studied and used in Life Sciences research here in Dundee.

The teachers were given a presentation about microbes and their importance to life sciences by University research scientists before getting to grips with the practical side of Molecular Microbiology. This involved the use of scientific techniques combined with interactive games and learning modules, which their students will get to try out for themselves at Magnificent Microbes 2014 on 14 March at the Dundee Science Centre. To help them to introduce their students to the fascinating world of microbiology, teachers participating in the event were given resource packs from both the Society of General Microbiology and the College of Life Sciences.

The CLS Schools Outreach Organiser Erin Hardee who organised the session and monitored training outcomes said that feedback from the teachers was incredibly positive, "A before and after brainstorming activity demonstrated that the session had effected a more positive view of microbes as well as a wider variety of words associated with the term, indicating that teachers had expanded their knowledge and confidence on the topic."

Comments from the particpants included:

“The video really helped me get into the project.  I am now excited rather than scared not knowing what would lie ahead.”

“I’m excited about how much they (the children) will enjoy the learning.”

“I now know how to approach a topic about microbiology and I will also be less scared to try this with my class.”

Magnificent Microbes is an event organised by Dr Nicola Stanley-Wall of the University of Dundee College of Life Sciences with support from the SGM, BBSRC, Wellcome Trust, and others in order to engage with school pupils and public over the necessity of microbes – often called ‘germs’ – to our lives and the important research taking place at the University of Dundee. The event ran in 2010 and 2012 previously and is now being expanded this year to include even more public engagement and education opportunities.