Year 10 students solve ‘murder’ at Horizon Discovery and learn about forensic testing

Year 10 students from Bottisham Village College, Cambridgeshire Home Educating Families, Coleridge Community College, North Cambridge Academy, Stephen Perse Foundation and Swavesey Village College were brought together at Horizon Discovery for the first Cambridge LaunchPad Innovators event of 2018.

The students were set up in temporary forensic laboratories and challenged to solve a gruesome murder by testing samples of blood taken at the crime scene, and determining who the murderer was from a pair of twins. They had the opportunity to extract DNA from the sample and analyse the genetic fingerprint using CRISPR Cas9 gene-editing technology.  As well as the practical activities, they had the opportunity to see how the Horizon labs operate with a virtual lab tour and talk to the Horizon team about different career options which are open to students who pursue further education in life sciences subjects.

Heather Hayes, Global Head of HR at Horizon Discovery, said

“We have greatly appreciated the opportunity of welcoming such engaged and positive students on site at Horizon Discovery. We feel confident that we’ve met the next generation of talented scientists who will be able to continue building the UK’s world class community of scientists and innovators.“

The team from Swavesey Village College most impressed the volunteers with their enthusiasm, communication and problem-solving skills and were selected to attend a prize trip that will take place in September, alongside Year 7-10 students from other schools and colleges that are taking part in Cambridge LaunchPad.

Lesley Long, Science Teacher at Swavesey Village College, said

“Taking part in Cambridge LaunchPad has given the students a fantastic opportunity to take some of the knowledge they’ve gained in the classroom, apply it to a real-world example and expand on it. The scientists here at Horizon have been able to develop a scenario that has really grabbed their imagination. The team worked really well together throughout the day and I’m very proud of how well they’ve done!“

This programme, which is managed by Form the Future, aims to encourage more young people, particularly girls and young women, to consider STEM careers. By introducing them to inspiring role models in fantastic STEM organisations, we hope to make these career paths accessible and attractive to the next generation.

Year 10 students from Coleridge Community College, said

“It’s been a great day – we’ve really enjoyed being able to do practical, hands-on tasks especially pipetting and using the vortex. It’s been nice to visit a company, wear a lab coat and learn how to use new equipment.”

Molly Askham, STEM Outreach Assistant at Form the Future CIC, said:

“From the student feedback, they enjoyed the hands-on tasks and were excited and inspired to learn how quickly they could pick up new skills and use equipment that they had never used before, and would have been unlikely to whilst at secondary school. Throughout the day the students also had the chance to interact with a number of Horizon Discovery staff members, covering a wide range career paths from lab technicians to scientific social media experts.”

We are eager to hear from schools and businesses who are interested in getting involved with Cambridge LaunchPad next academic year. Please get in touch with Anna, our STEM Outreach Project Manager at aaldred@formthefuture.org.uk for more information.

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