In June 2014, teamed up with The Genome Analysis Centre (TGAC) to run two Big Data themed zones: The Genomics Zone and the Bioinformatics Zone, each featuring at least two TGAC scientists. And these were our main findings:
- The students were interested in the scientists: Students read the scientist profiles and asked about the research of each individual scientist. They were also very keen to learn more about the scientists; daily lives and hobbies, as well about their opinions on topical issues like animal testing.
- Students were interested in Genomics and Bioinformatics: Two difficult subjects which many of the students might not have been familiar with before the event. In fact, one teacher in the Genomics zone said she was pleasantly surprised with the level of the students’ questions and how the scientists explained what genomics is.
- The Bioinformatics and Genomics Zones exposed students to the new trends in biology: Students learnt how biology is much more than identifying plants and animals, especially since the radical change that computers and Big Data have generated in the field. As one teacher said:
The genomics zone attracted us as it was a chance to expose kids to seeing biology as a difficult subject (which normally they don’t) and also speak to people in the research side of the subject. We felt it would link to a lot of topics in our current themes like microbes and reproduction.”
- Scientists improved their science communication skills: For some scientists, I’m a Scientist, Get me out of here! was their first public engagement activity, and it served as a good pilot experience. They learnt about students’ interests and how to communicate with them in a more efficient way.
If you want to read the full report, you can download a PDF version of it here.