Students experience life as a scientist as Babraham Institute School’s Day returns

Students experience life as a scientist as Babraham Institute School’s Day returns

Students experience life as a scientist as Babraham Institute School’s Day returns

Key points:

  • On 2nd March, Schools’ Day at the Institute returns after a three-year hiatus due to the pandemic with around 200 attendees from schools around the country.
  • Secondary and sixth-form students will gain hands on experience by completing short experiments and projects as well as hearing about the life-science research and the different career paths in research.
  • From immunology to epigenetics to cell signalling, the day’s activities cover the Institute’s cutting-edge research areas as well as world class facilities.

Schools’ Day sees students explore the latest research happening at the Institute and don lab coats as part of the Institute’s flagship engagement event. Completing projects under the supervision of the Institute’s researchers, students will get a taste for life in the lab. During the pandemic the Public Engagement team moved their activities online but today around 200 students are welcomed to the Institute for the return of Schools’ Day.

“We are thrilled to welcome students back to Schools’ Day. As one of our longest running engagement events, the activities put on by our researchers continue to inspire students by showcasing the exciting science we’ve got to offer! I hope that students will have fun completing their projects and leave with an appetite for studying life sciences.” said Dr Simon Cook, Institute Director.  

Students are matched with scientists across epigenetics, signalling, immunology research programmes and scientific facilities. Researchers demonstrate how to use equipment and conduct experiments before students take their turn at techniques often not offered in the classroom.

Example of this year’s projects include:

  • Understanding the architecture of the genome
  • Deciphering fly DNA to understand how complex organisms are built
  • Monitoring immune cells using flow cytometry
  • Extracting metabolites from cells to compare the effect of vitamin treatments
  • An introduction to CRISPR editing
  • Investigating the properties of stem cells under the microscope
  • Looking for mutations in cells
  • Using nematode worms to understand ageing
  • Tackling the data using bioinformatics
  • How DNA can be cut and pasted

While the students are busy with pipettes and coding, teachers are invited to tour the Institute’s facilities and explore the online resources created in collaboration with researchers to support student learning beyond Schools’ Day.

Most schools in attendance are from the Cambridgeshire area, but some travelled from as far as Jersey and Lancashire to participate. The Institute has a commitment to encouraging attendance from schools from areas around Cambridge that would not usually have access to this kind of event. This year sees the Institute launch a limited travel grant to help remove financial barriers for some schools.  Five schools from areas of relatively higher deprivation (assessed using the Indices of Multiple Deprivation) have been awarded a grant of up to £500 towards their travel costs.

“We have been really looking forward to bringing Schools’ Day back, as our biggest engagement event involving staff across the whole Institute, I would like to say a huge thank you to the researchers, technicians and staff who have made today a success.” Said Dr Mike Norman, Public Engagement Manager.

Registration for Schools’ Day 2024 will open in October. Teachers interested in finding out more can register for our Teacher Mailing List.

Notes to Editors

Press contact

Honor Pollard, Communications Officer,

Public Engagement contact

Fergus Powell, Schools Public Engagement Officer,

Image description:

Students in the lab performing an experiment wearing white lab coats

About the Babraham Institute

The Babraham Institute undertakes world-class life sciences research to generate new knowledge of biological mechanisms underpinning ageing, development and the maintenance of health. Our research focuses on cellular signalling, gene regulation and the impact of epigenetic regulation at different stages of life. By determining how the body reacts to dietary and environmental stimuli and manages microbial and viral interactions, we aim to improve wellbeing and support healthier ageing. The Institute is strategically funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), part of UK Research and Innovation, through Institute Strategic Programme Grants and an Institute Core Capability Grant and also receives funding from other UK research councils, charitable foundations, the EU and medical charities.


The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) is part of UK Research and Innovation, a non-departmental public body funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK government.

BBSRC invests in world-class bioscience research and training on behalf of the UK public. Our aim is to further scientific knowledge, to promote economic growth, wealth and job creation and to improve quality of life in the UK and beyond.

Funded by government, BBSRC invested £451 million in world-class bioscience in 2019-20. We support research and training in universities and strategically funded institutes. BBSRC research and the people we fund are helping society to meet major challenges, including food security, green energy and healthier, longer lives. Our investments underpin important UK economic sectors, such as farming, food, industrial biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.