Schools Science Conference 2007
Presented by Healthcare Scientists and Allied Health Professionals from London
Energy, excitement and enthusiasm were tangibly emanating from Kensington Town Hall on March 15th at the 4th Annual Schools Science Conference. Almost 400, year 9-13, students plus their teachers attended and one teacher remarked “I thought last year was fantastic, but this is even better!”
When the students arrived they passed through the empty halls into the auditorium where the tenor of the day was set by Keith Ison (Federation of Healthcare Scientists) with a simple experiment, performed with the aid of one of the students, demonstrating the perfect engineering of the human body. Keith described the many aspects of science – physical, biological and physiological – and their importance in understanding the functions of the body and in diagnosis and treatment when things go wrong. Pippa Hodgson (Skills for Health) told the students about the new adaptable and flexible approach to learning and career development within the NHS, explaining how it is possible to start in one professional area and to go on to obtain the necessary skills to move into another.
On leaving the auditorium, the students found that the halls had been filled with interactive, hands-on demonstrations put on by healthcare professionals from across London. On the upper floor, there was a series of presentations about fat and healthy eating – “Meat and Two Veg – or Proteins Fats and Carbs”. The students learned about how to image fat in the body and that where this fat is stored is more important than appearance for health. They heard about the importance of diet for health, when your body knows you have eaten enough, and how your body image and psyche affect your eating habits.
On the ground and lower floors, students tried to suture wounds, donned lab coats and gloves to perform diagnostic tests, imaged blood flow in the heart, as well as witnessing a baby moving in the womb. They looked inside each other's ears and learned about deafness. They discovered the causes of allergies. They made pharmacological ointments. They examined microbes under microscopes and growing on agar plates. They purified blood cells. They learned about genetic manipulations and tissue typing. They imaged the body’s internal organs, fractured bones, etc. and much, much more. Just about every profession in healthcare was represented – microbiologists, biochemists, physiotherapists, dieticians, chiropractors, audiologists, perfusionists, opticians, medical engineers, radiotherapists, andrologists, podiatrists, immunologists, pharmacists, psychologists, virologists, speech & language therapists, maxio-facial engineers, plastic surgeons, nuclear physicists etc. There were workshops based on “A day in my life…”, ranging from an Avian Flu Expert to “Defence against Bioterrorism” from someone resembling the Hogwarts’ Professor of Defence against the Dark Arts. All the while the students asked questions to find out more as well as learning about qualifications and training in the different professions. Two teachers remarked that had they had something similar they might not have gone into teaching. Students were able to fill their delegate bags with career leaflets and prizes for taking part in the various activities.
The closing session was in the auditorium. Two digital cameras, donated by Olympus, were presented to the students whose completed questionnaires were drawn out of the pile. Other prizes were presented to the winners of the various quizzes and competitions set by the healthcare scientists. Alison Mowbray, Olympic Silver Medalist (Athens) gave an awe-inspiring talk, demonstrating that it is possible to realise your dream. Alison sent the students home with her personal mantra – Expect Nothing, Blame No one, Do Something !
Throughout the day, the students learned that scientists are not the portrayed stereotypic anoraks but real people with exciting jobs and amazing lives. They learned about lots of diseases, and found out that diagnostic investigations are exciting and that you have to be innovative to fix the problems. Much more exciting than a computer game!
That was the end of the day for the students but the conference is continuing on the website where the students can ask more questions of our experts, read the reports from the student reporters, and find the winner of the third Olympus camera awarded to the report judged best by the organisers. They can also check to see that they collected all 10 Tips for Healthy Living.
Web address: www.srgprojectmanagement.co.uk/ssc2008/
The Organisers are grateful to all of the Healthcare Scientists and Allied Health Professionals for taking part and making the conference so successful. This year we had to be self-financing and we are very grateful to our numerous sponsors, listed on the website and programme. Of course, the conference would not have been so enjoyable without the enthusiastic participation of the students and their teachers – so thanks also to them. Now it is on with the planning of our 5th Conference and securing the funding.
Don Henderson, Chairman, Organising Group