Science Factor Research Clubs - Abingdon Science Partnership
Partners involved in this project: Fitzharrys, Larkmead, John Mason, Caldecott Primary, Thomas Reade Primary, Dunmore Primary, Institute for Research in Schools, University of Oxford Wildlife Conservation Research Unit.
Abingdon Science Partnership, ASP, supports a number of clubs where pupils from several, local schools can engage with scientific research projects facilitated largely by the Institute for Research in Schools or by grant awards such as the Royal Society’s Partnership Grant scheme. Currently three, regular clubs run weekly, including Biology Factor, Chemistry Factor and Physics Factor, involving pupils from a number of schools working together on projects with academic partners such as Imperial College, University of Oxford and the Wellcome Trust’s Sanger Institute. In addition, a Royal Society Partnership Grant has been awarded for a project led by a D.Phil. student at Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit. This involves three secondary schools and three primary schools, as well as Science Oxford, in monitoring local wildlife using camera traps and contributing to research into the behaviour of the European Badger.
The aim of the Science Factor clubs is to facilitate access to real research projects for pupils from all schools in Abingdon, increasing collaboration between schools and developing additional skills in the participating pupils.
Abingdon Science Partnership was invited to take on the role of a hub organisation for the Institute for Research in Schools and to use its expertise to widen participation in the projects on offer.
The Abingdon Science Partnership’s bespoke science lab is the venue for a number of the meetings, although specialist chemistry labs are used for some of the projects. Each science department has a designated member of staff who acts as an IRIS ambassador and supervises projects within their specialist area of knowledge. The ASP Co-ordinator and Graduate Assistant provide logistical support, liaise with external organisations and support the external pupils through visiting their schools when required.
Most projects are at an early stage, but some highlights so far have included partner pupils making presentations at conferences, such as CERN@School at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and twice at the Royal Society’s annual student conference. Sixth form pupils from a number of participating schools have been able to cite the experience gained in UCAS personal statements.
All Science Factor clubs are open to pupils from partner schools from Y9 upwards. The Royal Society Partnership Grant project also involves collaboration with three, local primary schools with secondary pupils acting as mentors to the primary research teams.
Science Factor Clubs run weekly in term time with projects evolving over longer periods. Royal Society Partnership Grant projects are funded for one year, but are intended to develop some lasting legacy for ongoing work.