It might sound like an unusual to-do list for a scientist, but lasers, flying cars and a cure for hunger were among the top priorities of students who lent their imaginations and vocal talents to an animation created to launch a free science laboratory for primary and secondary schools across the UK.
But while talk of flying cookies and mixing fox and human DNA kept students occupied, it also provided valuable insight into children’s perceptions of a scientist, with many never having experienced science outside of their classroom walls.
Baylab – launched by Life Sciences company Bayer PLc – is a state-of-the-art science laboratory designed to act as a free resource to awaken the joy of discovery in school children and give them room to grow while supporting their classroom education. Baylab will provide hands-on science lessons to over 4,000 students aged 5-18 every year.
The opening of Baylab coincides with a study by Bayer which shows that seven out of ten STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) teachers feel there is a lack of options for extracurricular activities and fields trips.
The study surveyed 500 teachers about their experience of science in schools, including their opinion on the importance of practical application and facilities.
Just one third of teachers feel their students fully understand how their subjects relate to real life. A lack of facilities and equipment was cited as the main reason for this, followed by time constraints.
We are giving students of all levels and abilities the chance to extract their own DNA, to characterise the proteins of an enzyme and even work through crime scene forensics. The experiments have been designed to give students an insight into how science is used in everyday life – Emma Schierbaum, Baylab’s manager
Baylab’s manager, Emma Schierbaum, a science teacher and bio-chemist said: “Practical experiments can often suffer due to lack of facilities and equipment, making it difficult to run an engaging lesson that relates to real life settings.
“We are giving students of all levels and abilities the chance to extract their own DNA, to characterise the proteins of an enzyme and even work through crime scene forensics. The experiments have been designed to give students an insight into how science is used in everyday life.”
Part of an £11m investment, Baylab aims to inspire young people to pursue opportunities in Life Sciences and strengthen the UK STEM talent pool from the bottom-up; its experiments have been developed to support teachers with delivering the national curriculum and fill the hands-on science gap that many teachers experience due to time and cost constraints.
Alexander Moscho, CEO of Bayer UK and Ireland said: “At Bayer we are well aware that sound scientific expertise is essential for meeting the challenges of the future. That’s why the company is increasingly gearing its strategy towards the promotion and strengthening of science education as well as our own research activities. Baylab will help students discover the magic of science and how they can apply their knowledge to real world scenarios. It will work alongside our other initiatives including our award-winning apprenticeship programme and graduate scheme to encourage more young people to pursue a career in life science.”