Following a successful pilot, in 2019 the Centre for Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine at King's College London partnered with Native Scientist again to deliver a series of science outreach workshops to young Portuguese and French heritage speakers. Led by PhD student Inês Tomás, with the support of Public Engagement Officer Jessica Sells, King's College London and the Language Acts and Worldmaking Small Grants fund, the 'Discovering Our Cells' workshops introduced pupils to STEM topics in their heritage languages. Under the guidance of Portuguese and French-speaking scientists, the children completed a range of practical experiments and interactive, hands-on activities exploring issues such as DNA and skin cell growth.
In each workshop, students put on a scientist gown and with the help of Portuguese-speaking scientists or French-speaking scientists, discover the world of DNA, cells and tissues. The hands-on, minds-on workshops are a unique opportunity for science and language integrated learning, and let students explore science concepts with real scientists while visiting the facilities of the Centre for Stem Cells & Regenerative Medicine and practicing their language skills. Most students have a Portuguese or French migrant background and are aged 8-18 years old. Each event was in three parts: introduction to the type of work done in the lab and introduction of scientists, followed by the practical activities in a rotation of 15 minutes. The workshop was then ended by a quiz to question the new knowledge of the pupils. In total, 25 students took part in the Portuguese workshops and 8 students in the French workshops.
After the workshops, students were encouraged to complete a short evaluation form. The organisers also talked informally with the teachers and the scientists who had delivered the workshops. According to the evaluation form: all of the pupils “liked” or “liked a lot” the workshops; approximately 61% “met” or “may have met” a scientist for the first time in their lives; most pupils described the activities as “fun”, “interesting” and “cool”; all of the pupils “learned” or “learned a lot” new science concepts; same for “learned” or “learned a lot” new vocabulary; 52% would “like” or “like a lot” to become a scientist. “I enjoyed visiting the lab” wrote one of the students.
Founded in 2013, Native Scientist is an award-winning European-wide non-profit organisation dedicated to promoting cultural diversity in science, education and society. Through science and language integrated learning workshops, training and networking, it encourages ethnic minority children to pursue higher education and STEM careers, and celebrates multilingualism.