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Posted on 02.04.2015

Students were given a taste of scientific research outside the classroom after linking up with Discovery Park tenant AlgaeCytes Ltd.

The project was supported by a Royal Society Partnership grant between Jackie Wilson from Sir Roger Manwood’s School and Dr John Dodd from AlgaeCytes Ltd.

It gave young people the chance to meet and work with local scientists as well as build and develop their scientific understanding in a way that was exciting, original and relevant to their lives.

The next generation of scientists, all pupils at Sir Roger Manwood’s School in Sandwich, carried out a range of microbiology research techniques, usually taught at university level.

The students carried out the research project in their own school laboratories after an initial introductory week in AlgaeCytes’s own research base.

They delivered a final presentation to demonstrate their findings at Discovery Park itself, a place that has growing a reputation as a centre of excellence for commercial scientific research and development. The students were able to study how one strain of microalgae behaved when grown with light and in the presence of its bacterial partners under different environmental conditions.

John Dodd, Head of Innovation and co-founder of AlgaeCytes, said: “The students have gained valuable experience of working in science in an enterprising company situation as well as in a lab at school, so they might think now about taking up a career in science after they leave university.”

“It is important to sow the seeds of science in the up-and-coming scientists with the view that we could employ them in a few years time. It’s great for them to have the experience and in terms of us putting something back into the local community, it’s very rewarding too. It is important for Discovery Park too, as they are really establishing themselves as an important science park in the UK and beyond.”

Jackie Wilson and Victoria Grist, biology teachers at Sir Roger Manwood’s School, were impressed with their students and their teamwork and dedication. Jackie said, “The students have worked so hard on the project since November and they have all been dedicated and enthusiastic throughout. It’s great that they have experienced some of the aspects of doing scientific research as well as how it can be applied to business.”

“Projects like this are so important to make science come alive as it can help the students build their knowledge, experience and confidence and give them an idea of what science is like in the real world.”

Student Georgia Green, who has previously enjoyed work experience at Pfizer, joined the project to strengthen her research skills.

Georgia said: “It’s been really helpful to see what a career in research would actually be like and to see the practical skills of working in a team. It’s been useful to get some professional science research results; I’d definitely be interested in pursuing a career in science after university.”

Kimberley Anderson, corporate relations manager at Discovery Park, said: “It was great to see the students engaging in the project and putting what they have learnt into practice in a professional lab environment. We hope that projects like these will play a part in encouraging students to follow a scientific career.”

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