Crick News


September 2017

Schools project



The Francis Crick Institute's education team has rolled out a school science project to almost 1,500 students in Camden to help them learn to 'work scientifically' - a key part of the national curriculum.

Inspired by Crick research on DNA damage and cancer, the education team designed an interactive project in collaboration with teachers from local schools to engage year 7 students in classroom science experiments, with an emphasis on the scientific method: coming up with questions, collecting data, testing hypotheses and interpreting the findings. Teachers from eight schools were trained at the Crick and then gave the lessons throughout the summer term with the support of Crick staff.

Science Educator at the Crick, Ivana Petrovska, said: "It was exciting to see a project emerge from a collaboration among teachers, Crick staff and scientists and come to life in the school classroom. Watching the students make their own discoveries, make sense of them and even provide suggestions of how to improve the experiments was incredibly rewarding."

The project was generously supported by a grant from the Clore Duffield Foundation and was developed as part of a wider education programme at the Crick that aims to engage and inspire Camden students with STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects and support teachers with various aspects of the school curriculum.

Over a minimum of three lessons, students conducted science investigations from start to finish in the classroom. Working in groups, they designed and carried out experiments to explore ultraviolet (UV) light and the effectiveness of sunscreen using custom-built science equipment. The students then wrote up their experiments in mini scientific papers, which their teachers used to follow their progress and provide feedback and guidance.  

One teacher commented: "Our students very much enjoyed the practical. It has been extremely valuable to have a 'real life' scenario and equipment which students would not normally have access to in school."

When asked what they enjoyed the most about the project, one student said: "Understanding the experiments I was doing and why I was getting the results I was getting".

Another student said she enjoyed "testing how effective the sun cream is at blocking UV light." Students were also encouraged to think critically about the project and provide suggestions on how it could be improved.

Due to the success of the project, the Crick Education team is hoping to continue it next year. The project may serve as a model for developing other interactive projects for older students.