Partnership between Institute and Dutch school generates bright ideas
We welcomed twelve prize-winning students from the Sophianum School in south-east Holland to the Institute today. The three teams of students are the winners of challenge projects exploring technical aspects of care for research animals and how regulations governing the use of animals in research, and public opinion of the use of animals varies across the world. The projects were designed in conjunction with the Institute’s animal facility (BSU) as part of the Dutch national ‘Technasium’ education programme.
Technasium was started in the Netherlands in 2004 and now over 60 schools throughout the country take part each year. We worked with the BSU and a group of teachers from Sophianum to develop three research and design projects for their students. Two projects challenged students to research and design systems to improve the efficiency of animal care systems and overcome commonly encountered issues. A third project required students to research how legislation regulating the use of animals in science, as well as public opinion, can vary throughout Europe and the rest of the world. The partnership with the Babraham Institute featured in the latest edition of the Technasium Magazine.
After Babraham Institute staff visited the school in May to launch the challenges, around 90 students have spent ten weeks working on their solutions. Regular Skype calls with animal facility staff have enabled the students to ask questions throughout the process and videos posted on YouTube have allowed us to observe students’ progress. In the students’ final videos, they presented their challenge project results. The teams’ final project work was assessed by both Sophanium teachers and Institute staff.
Minouk, one of the winning students, said "It was really enjoyable working together on a project that was innovative and had a real purpose. It was a great learning process and while not all of our initial suggestions worked we found that a lot of the little ideas came together to make a bigger solution".
The visit to the Babraham Institute, including a chance to see inside the BSU, is part of the students’ prize. The students and teachers also visited the Engineering Department at the University of Cambridge before presenting their solutions to a group of Institute staff, including animal technicians and scientists.
Teachers Wesly Sauren and Fernao Prince said "The projects were extremely fascinating as our students received lots of help from the animal technicians via YouTube video and Skype calls. The visit to our school by Babraham Institute staff gave the students a lot of motivation, as did the chance to come over to England to visit the Babraham Institute. We hope to continue this partnership in the future".