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Taking stem cells to high schools during the Covid-19 pandemic

Researcher Jonas Fritze talking to high school students in this years Science to Schools initiative

Despite the ongoing pandemic, researchers from Lund Stem Cell Center are bringing science to schools both physically and using a digital platform.

High school students across the Skåne region are learning about stem cell research in the ‘Taking science to schools – Borrow a scientist’ initiative, organized by the Research School in Stem Cell Biology.

In this outreach project – planned for spring 2020, but postponed until autumn due to the Covid-19 pandemic – researchers are visiting high schools, either physically or digitally, and giving students insight into the everyday life of a stem cell researcher.

“During these interactive events the students find out what it takes to become a stem cell scientist.” explains Magdalena Madej, a PhD student from Lund Stem Cell Center participating in this year’s outreach project. “We have the opportunity to let students know how a researcher works, discuss the ethics of stem cell research and describe how stem cells can, and are, used to cure certain diseases.”

 

Researcher Magdelena Madej discussing stem cells with high school students from Katedralskolan in Lund
Researcher Magdalena Madej discussing stem cells online with high school students from Katedralskolan in Lund

Visits also include activities such as interactive polls, stem cell quizzes and virtual lab tours, all designed to pique the curiosity of the students for this exciting research area.

“This is a great opportunity for our students to have contact with real scientists” says Malin Östvall, a biology teacher from Katedralskolan in Lund, whose class is participating in this year’s initiative.

The initiative is a collaboration with the educational outreach event UniStem day, held annually in March at Lund University. UniStem is the largest event of its kind, promoting stem cell research to high school students simultaneously all over the world.

 

Researcher Jonas Fritze talking to high school students in this years Science to Schools initiative
Researcher Jonas Fritze interacting with students online

“Due to the overwhelming popularity of Unistem day, places are limited.” explains Christine Karlsson, Executive Director of the Research School in Stem Cell Biology. “The ‘Taking Science to Schools’ initiative is a great opportunity for those unable to attend UniStem day to learn more about stem cell research. For us, it’s fantastic to engage with high school students and promote their curiosity and interest in science.”

“The researchers involved in this project have made a huge effort to adopt their visits to a digital setting, given the Covid-19 pandemic.” concludes Christine “We will continue this project in 2021, with the hopes of on-site school visits.”

The “Taking science to schools – borrow a scientist 2020” project has engaged a total of 175 high school students and 10 teachers across 6 schools, and has been run by  17 scientists from Lund Stem Cell Center, supported by project leaders Jenny Hansson and Christine Karlsson.

Thank you to Anna Konturek-Ciesla, Anna Rydström, Aurelie Baudet, David Yudovich, Diahann Atacho, Hugo Åkerstrand, Jessica Giacomoni, Jonas Fritze, Jonas Ungerbäck, Kinjal Shah, Magdalena Madej, Maria Jassinskaja, Marie Jönsson, Mikael Sommarin, Niklas Krausse, Ram Krishna Thakur, and Svetlana Soboleva - the researchers bringing science to schools in this project.