Last week and this week, King’s College London is the stage of Portuguese science workshops engaging 40 bilingual pupils aged 8 to 14.
On the 8th and 9th of June, the Centre for Stem Cell & Regenerative Medicine (CSCRM) hosted a series of Native Explorers events designed to help universities and research centres engage with local communities and encourage pupils to have a positive attitude towards science and multilingualism. Commenting about this initiative, Professor Fiona Watt, director of the CSCRM, said: ‘I am delighted to be hosting the Native Explorers at the CSCRM at King’s College London. Language is a tool for communication, so communicating the excitement of science to school children in their native language is an excellent idea.’
During the event, pupils put on the scientist gown and discovered the world of skin regeneration, embryo development and DNA. Dr Inês Sequeira, who leads the project at King’s College London, explains that ‘these hands-on workshops are an extremely valuable experience that engages and inspires students in the wonders of science. As scientists, we have the responsibility to communicate our science with the public and for me doing it my mother tongue is at the same time a challenge and a pleasure’.
The event is the result of a partnership between Native Scientist and the CSCRM, Instituto Camões (Portuguese homolog of the British Council) and Oval Learning Cluster (network of school located in the Oval area).
‘To bring pupils of this age and with a migrant background to King’s is a very special opportunity that connects them with role models and opens their horizons, helping them feel that speaking another language is an asset, not a handicap, and that becoming a scientist is a real and viable option’ says Dr Joana Moscoso, from Native Scientist.
The last Native Explorers event in this series will happen on the 15th of June when another 10 pupils will discover the wonders and power of stem cells in regenerative medicine. Interestingly, this event is also part of a research study aimed to understand the outcomes for attitudes towards languages and sciences and conducted in partnership with Dr Patrick Rebuschat at Lancaster University.
A mini-documentary of the event will be submitted to the Bristol Science Film Festival in July. We hope that this will spread the word of the initiative far and wide. The Native Explorers programme was launched at Lancaster University in May. This programme gives pupils the opportunity to explore settings like universities, research centres and museums. In Lancaster, pupils interacted with different bilingual researchers. In Edinburgh, pupils enjoyed a guided visit to Dynamic Earth, a visitor attraction dedicated to the origin of the Earth.
This project had the support of The Wellcome Trust.
For more information, please contact Dr Joana Moscoso (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Dr Inês Sequeira (email@example.com).
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