This year was the second edition of DevNeuro Academy, the Centre’s flagship widening participation project. 20 students from three south London non-selective state schools had the opportunity to witness and experience first-hand what it is like to be a researcher.
“We ran our DevNeuro Academy widening participation program for the second time this year and things went very, very well. This cycle we brought onboard a new school, the Harris Academy Bermondsey, an all girls' school. The chaotic 2 weeks of hosting 20 students in the department was fun and passed in a blink of an eye. Graduation was well attended and we had some awesome talks & posters. I think opening our doors to the local community is the right way to go. We just heard the great news that Widening Participation at King’s has refunded the program for 2017/2018.”
Darren Williams, one of the organisers.
The DevNeuro Academy project aims to inspire underrepresented students to pursue higher education and prepare them for this endeavour. Indeed, 48% of privately educated children go on to study at a highly selective university, whilst only 18% of state school children, and a staggering 2% of children eligible for free school meals, gain such a place. This project’s ambition is to contribute towards changing these numbers.
"Everything this academy has done for me has been a great help for making my decisions in the future. At first, picking your career seemed to be based on two features: salary and your love for it. However, my time at Kings has definitely opened up my eyes and showed me that there is so much more when picking your career. How will my career benefit me? How will it benefit others? What will I be dealing with when I take upon this career? Though I have many years to make up my mind, I’m glad that my experience here has not only helped prepare me for what is to come in the future but it has also provided me with a chance to work with other scientists in their many fun and engaging experiments.”
Kevin (student), St Michael's Catholic College.
This year, the City of London Academy, St Michael’s Catholic College and Harris Academy Bermondsey contributed to the success of the second edition of DevNeuro Academy. Throughout the academic year, more than 20 PhD students and postdoctoral researchers from our Centre visited the local schools to deliver interactive ‘Discovery workshops’ on Neuroscience to nearly fifty pupils. Great innovation and interactivity happened in the classroom including origami-style protein folding, neurotransmitter ball and bucket games and Lego Mindstorm Braitenberg robots to explore circuits and behaviour. At the end of the workshops, students wishing to participate in the summer work experience could fill in an application for one of twenty spaces available.
“This was a very amazing opportunity and I relish in the fact that not only did I improve lab skills and learn many different things about science and life in general, but also that I have gained understanding of how a lab works and I am now even more sure that I would like to delve into a career related to science.”
Nicole (student), City of London Academy.
During two weeks this summer, students lived the life of researchers. Guided by a postdoctoral researcher or a PhD student, they learned various molecular and cell biology techniques, from injecting GFP-tagged protein in rat neurons to monitoring two neurons communicating together. The students also had the opportunity to visit some of King’s cutting edge core facilities such as the Nikon Imaging Centre, where they saw state-of-the-art light microscopes, and one of the largest standalone zebrafish facilities in Europe. Students also had lectures on how to master their personal statements and managing their finances.
“It was great to have the students around in the lab again this year. It’s always so refreshing to see our job though their eyes. And it really works both ways: their enthusiasm is very rewarding and their questions help us become better teachers!”
Clémence Bernard, postdoctoral researcher in the Centre.
The programme concluded with a graduation ceremony, which was attended by their supervisors, teachers and family members. After two weeks of exciting discovery it was time for the students to present their research results through scientific posters or presentations!
Join us for the next edition of the DevNeuro Academy project that starts this September!
The DevNeuro Academy project is supported by a grant from the King’s Widening Participation Department.