UCD DCRC (Diabetes Complications Research Centre) Researchers take part in exciting public engagement activity with transition year students

(18th June 2021) Early career researchers from the UCD DCRC helped deliver a weeklong schedule of exciting activities with transition year students on a work experience week in April 2021.

In April Transition Year (TY) students (15 – 16-year-olds) from schools in Dublin, Kildare and Wicklow joined us on campus for five full days to see what the day-to-day life of a scientist actually consists of. Eleven PhD students and ‘Post Docs’ from SBI, Conway, the Charles Institute and the UCD DCRC organised hands-on activities and seminars for the teenagers to give them an insight into their working life.

In the lead up to the TY week, the 11 researchers joined us for training in both public engagement and in running activities for teenagers. After this session, with their newly acquired knowledge and skills, the researchers designed activities based on their own scientific field that they could carry out with the TY students, which we helped facilitate. Ciara Lynch led a coding workshop, Danielle Galvin designed neuroscience experiments, and Sarah Lussoso ran human tissue staining.

Researchers also delivered talks and seminars: James White, from the UCD DCRC spoke about microscopy and anatomy with great videos on human body in action; Ciara delivered a talk on the steps to establishing a career as a researcher; and Danny Johnston ran a seminar on vaccine development including Zooming in a colleague from the University of Oxford who worked on the AstraZeneca C-19 vaccine which was an extraordinary experience for the students.

The TY students loved learning about what it is like to be a scientist and meeting our researchers. In the A Day in the Life of a Scientist session the team of researchers presented videos, photo diaries, and talks on what a typical day looks like for them. The TY students gained a better understanding of the many different jobs that being a “scientist” encapsulates. They also realised the importance of creativity, communication, and collaboration within science, which is not something they had considered before. Another key learning point of the week for the TY students was that science often goes wrong, and that perseverance is key.

At the end of the week, the TY students presented a ‘Show and Tell’ piece on their favourite activity or what they found interesting or surprising during their week. The students and our researchers worked together to come up with ideas for the ‘Show and Tell’, and with the help of the researchers the students delved deeper into areas they had found interesting during the week. Being able to work one-on-one with the early career researchers was a highlight for the transition year students. They told us:

  • “The buddy system was definitely one of the best parts. We got to personally interact with the researchers, and it was so much more enjoyable.”
  • “Because we all got to learn a lot more from the researchers themselves and their interests and background, which can be motivating to ourselves.”
  • “During a time like this, getting hands-on learning from incredibly inspiring individuals has been one of the highlights of the year.”