Cell EXPLORERS represented Ireland as the only Irish science outreach representative group at the National Student Travel Foundation (NSTF) Malta Science Expo, which took place during April in the Maltese capital Valletta.
To encourage young peoples’ engagement in science, the Expo invites science communicators from abroad to attend and give workshops to inspire and excite the next generation of scientists. The NSTF Malta Science Expo is a successful science engagement programme that has run for several years. It is composed of a comprehensive set of science based competitions for students as well as a programme of scientific activities delivered by both Maltese and International scientists.
This year, Cell EXPLORERS had the opportunity to bring their hands-on molecular biology activities to the Expo. A team of three scientists, led by Programme Director Dr Muriel Grenon, travelled from NUI Galway to bring the ‘Fantastic DNA’ workshop to the primary school children of Malta. During the week, over 400 Maltese children performed banana DNA extractions with the Cell EXPLORERS team.
Based in the School of Natural Sciences in NUI Galway, Cell EXPLORERS is an outreach programme that proposes hands-on and fun practice of cellular and molecular biology to engage young people in biological and biomedical sciences. The programme, funded by the Wellcome Trust and Science Foundation Ireland Discover Science and Engineering Awards, is piloting a model of sustainable public engagement in science unique in Ireland. This model involves both a curriculum-integrated component and a strong base of volunteering undergraduate, postgraduate students, lecturers and researchers.
Expo organiser, Karl Agius, was pleased with the performance of Cell EXPLORERS at the event: “Cell EXPLORERS have continued to improve the quality and reach of the NSTF Science Expo through their workshop. Thanks to their enthusiasm and communication skills, they excited and motivated the kids to the wonders and realities of science and imbued in them the wish to know more.”
Dr Grenon was also delighted with the positive response of the Maltese children and teachers to the workshop: “It is incredible to see that the hands on science lesson designed by NUI Galway Cell EXPLORERS undergraduate students works as well in Malta than in Ireland. We have met a lot of interest among teachers, students and lecturers, and initiated collaborations which should allow the Cell EXPLORERS model to develop further away than Ireland.”
Cell EXPLORERS continues to expand its activities here in Ireland, with the first ever Bio-EXPLORERS science holiday camps taking place this year in conjunction with Eco-EXPLORERS. For more information on Cell EXPLORERS and any upcoming activities visit http://www.nuigalway.ie/bughunters/ or take a look at their facebook site at https://www.facebook.com/Cellexplorers.