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Penryn College pupils presenting their project to develop an underwater rover, which will be deployed in the Helford River. 

How Science Works 2019

How Science Works is a recent collaboration between Penryn College and the University of Exeter’s College of Life and Environmental Sciences (CLES). 

This partnership encourages pupils at local primary and secondary schools to investigate questions in science, with the support of their class teachers and undergraduate students from the University of Exeter’s Penryn Campus. Having completed two terms, this series of sessions continues to encourage local schools to work together on shared science projects, as well as promoting the research being carried out by University staff and students in Cornwall.

Kicking off with a training day at Penryn College, students from CLES and teachers from local primary schools learnt how to develop an effective technique for delivering the research projects to year 5 primary school children. Students then visited the primary schools in small groups to help the children design their research projects, collect and interpret data, and produce a poster of the results. The school children enjoyed engaging with the undergraduate helpers, and “loved the experiments, drawing graphs and learning science”.  In turn the undergraduates enjoyed learning about teaching and sharing their passion for science, as well as contributing to the local community. The teachers also felt the collaboration was highly successful, and that “the investigation really helped the children think about evaluations and conclusions”.

The series culminated in a How Science Works conference where pupils from all the primary schools and Penryn College visited the Penryn Campus to present their research posters. A vote to select the best poster from each school proved difficult, due to the quality of entries. The highlight for many of the primary school children was viewing the posters made by other schools. Then followed a presentation by Masters student Ellen McArthur on her research into microplastics. Penryn College pupils also presented their exciting project to develop an underwater rover, which will be deployed in the Helford River. This rover will assist with surveying endangered seahorses and their habitat, in order to identify potential ways to promote their recovery. The pupils at “really enjoyed the opportunity to talk to a younger audience” and improve their presentation skills.

Dr Kelly Moyes, Senior Lecturer in Ecology who is also responsible for outreach activity in the bioscience department said “This is the second term we have run this project and it is one I am incredibly proud of – it’s a fantastic initiative that enables us to work with Penryn College on a genuinely effective outreach project which reaches all the children at many of our local primary schools, regardless of their background, and engages them with and enthuses them about science.”

Date: 8 April 2019