Students sample Biomedical STEM careers in Oxfordshire
Our World of Work programme aims to inspire and encourage young people to consider a career in STEM through giving them real life work experiences. In May, we took fifteen Year 10 students from ten different secondary schools in Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire to visit a range of biomedical research businesses and organisations, as part of a STEM Experience week.
At the Medical Research Council at Harwell, our students took an air shower wearing hospital ‘blues’ and hairnets– a system designed to clean the human body and clothing of pathogens before researchers enter a ‘clean room’ where experiments are carried out. At Vertex Pharmaceuticals, they examined different blood samples, comparing healthy blood and blood from a patient with sickle cell disease (and also enjoyed the staff pool table and hot chocolate on tap!)
Students took part in discussions hosted by CochraneUK, an organisation involved in reviewing evidence from health-related research, where they debated topics such as whether various treatments for the common cold were supported by real evidence.
During a fascinating visit to the John Radcliffe Hospital microbiology lab (pictured below), the group followed the full testing process for viruses and bacteria – from petri dish to results, good or bad. They also took part in a seminar with an expert in oncology, learning about how cancer forms and why it is so difficult to cure. On a trip to Oxford University Dunn School of Pathology, they toured the laboratories and tried out some DNA puzzles.
To end the week, our students took an inspiring factory tour at Abbott Diabetes Care (ADC) in Witney (pictured below). Modern STEM companies are going all out to attract young people to start or progress scientific careers with their organisation. Our young people got a fantastic insight as some of Abbott’s young scientists and researchers talked through their career paths or graduate scheme. A common thread was that hard work is everything, to keep an open mind as things may not work out as you imagined but could be even better – and work at something you enjoy. One speaker explained how working with his hands as a farmer led on to a variety of jobs from fixing shop check-outs to operating machinery, to a leading engineering role at ADC. Wellbeing initiatives at the company were also important from growing food on their allotment and building a nature trail on site, exercise and meditation classes and staff volunteering opportunities within the local community. It was rewarding to see young people gaining an insight into the possibilities of tomorrow’s world, and a healthy future.
Andrew Kensley, Head of Education Outreach said, – “At the beginning of the week, no one knew more than 2 other people, but by the last day the students were taking part in debates, discussions and activities with much enthusiasm! We visited state-of-the art laboratories and research facilities, and it was great to be able to take the students to various organisations where staff shared their passion for science and engineering. I’m sure the week will have opened the students’ eyes to a whole range of amazing STEM careers.”
“He had an absolutely amazing week. Every day we heard in detail about the fantastic tours he experienced. He definitely achieved his goals in that he has a greater understanding as to what is available in the future in the fields of science and the technology associated with it. He also feels more confident about the prospects of University and career choices to be made as before he was intimidated/unsure about what to do. I think he perhaps had a difficult time on Saturday coming down from the excitement and joy of the week as he was so inspired!” Parent
“Thanks to Science Oxford for wonderful STEM week for year 10’s. My son thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience… Kudos to the whole team!” Parent
“What stood out to us the most was the workplace: the breakroom had a pool table, foosball and the best hot chocolate! (Vertex Pharmaceuticals in Oxford)
All in all, I am fortunate to have been offered the opportunity to experience work life in a STEM career. It has unquestionably sparked interest in this side of education but also made me conscious of how I can pursue many paths in science.” Student
Visit here to find out more about our STEM Experience opportunities.