Living in the Extreme


The Native Scientist programme “Living in the Extreme” was a success! This was another pioneering project of Native Scientist, developed and delivered in partnership with the Royal Society of Biology.

“Living in the Extreme” took Portuguese migrant pupils, in Edinburgh, on an adventure from the origin of life on Earth to the search for life in the Universe. This was a novel programme developed by Native Scientist and thanks to the Outreach and Engagement Grant awarded by the Royal Society of Biology.

Two events took place last year: on a first instance, scientists left their labs and offices to go to pupils’ Saturday language school, Lusofonias; on a second instance, pupils left their school seats to visit the National Museum of Scotland. In a series of hands-on-activities, natural sciences researchers guided young pupils through the understanding of (1) how Earth became a habitable planet and how life evolved, (2) the abiotic limits of life on Earth, (3) the evolutionary adaptations of species, and (4) the search for life in the Solar System and beyond.

By bringing together migrant pupils and scientists in these two events, we aimed to enhance the science capital of the targeted children. The program was designed to capture pupils’ attention to the natural sciences, as well as to raise awareness about the interdisciplinarity and cooperation between different fields of science to understand life.

More than 60 pupils attended the two events. Feedback collected at the end of the activities revealed that 95% of the pupils “liked” or “liked a lot” the workshops, while 41% “met” or “may have met” a scientist for the first time in their lives. The Lusofonias’ teacher said “Our pupils liked this activity a lot. Feedback has been very positive. Thank you for your hard work.” Lara Alegre, a PhD candidate from Edinburgh University and a main organiser of both events, mentioned that “the activities were extremely rewarding for all the volunteers. Communicating science to young children was challenging, but it enabled us to improve our skills. Our participation also reinforced our professional network and gave us valid outreach experience.”

This adventure of “Living in the Extreme” was only possible thanks to the excellent work of volunteer scientists in collaboration with teachers and parents.

About Native Scientist

Native Scientist is an award-winning European-wide non-profit organisation that promotes cultural diversity in science, education and society. Native Scientist provides science and language workshops, science communication training, and bespoke projects for various institutions, including schools, universities and embassies. The work developed connects pupils with scientists to foster science and language literacy through role modelling and science and language integrated learning. Founded in 2013, their work reaches over 1,200 pupils a year and they count with a network of over 1,000 international scientists.

About Royal Society of Biology

The Royal Society of Biology is a professional body for bioscientists – providing a single unified voice for biology: advising Government and influencing policy; advancing education and professional development; supporting their members, and engaging and encouraging public interest in the life sciences. The Outreach and Engagement grant scheme (www.rsb.org.uk/outreach-grants) is an initiative that allows members of the Royal Society of Biology to apply for up to £500 to fund an event or activity in their local area that engages people with biology.

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