The exclusive Liverpool John Moores University outreach project funded by the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) has completed its first successful year, working with local schools to widen participation in chemistry and raise pupil awareness of the varied range of careers in the subject.
Only four universities from across the UK were selected by the RSC as part of this £1 million project, which aims to influence the UK Government, and University and School Leadership. The value of the project for LJMU is £150,000.
Each university works with six local schools, through mid- to late-stages of a school career ( years 8 through to 12). LJMU adopted an interdisciplinary approach to the project, with staff from the School of Pharmacy and Bimolecular Sciences, the School of Teacher Education and Professional Learning and the Student Recruitment and Admissions team forming the project team.
The programme for the first of this five year project was designed around four themes; enhancement, motivation, aspiration and careers. Activities included ‘Chemistry in Your Shopping Basket’ which involved “show stopping” demonstrations where pupils participated in reactions and experiments to determine the pH of an acid, alkali and a neutral solution and explain the chemical reactions from items in their basket. Sessions also took place covering: ‘Which careers use Chemistry’ and a ‘What does a Chemist look like?’. The ‘Chemistry All Around Us’ lesson tested acids and alkalis, carbon dioxide and crude oil from every day products.
Students from Saints Catholic High School, Bebington High Sports College, Broadgreen International School, Cowley International College, West Derby School and Woodchurch High School took part in the activities.
Comments from pupils included:
“I enjoyed everything I did today and I would love to come back again and maybe even come to this University myself.”
“I enjoyed doing the practicals and learning how to use some equipment, also the (demonstration) show and meeting (LJMU) students.”
Thomas Clark, a Teacher of Science at All Saints, commented:
"Working with Liverpool John Moores University and using their labs and apparatus is brilliant for the students. I studied here and was encouraged to pursue a career in teaching chemistry."
Dr Ian Bradshaw who is the LJMU Project Director and Subject leader in Pharmaceutical and Chemical Sciences commented:
“Chemistry for All has been designed to overcome barriers to chemistry education, particularly in students from challenging backgrounds. We want to create a drive for curiosity in science using our position as a modern civic university with a track record in serving the educational and training needs of the local communities. Our links with employers in the North West chemical sector will also be used to enhance this delivery and ensure that school age pupils know the exciting careers and opportunities chemistry can lead to.”
Professor Peter Byers, LJMU Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education)
“Demand for Stem-trained (science, technology, engineering and math) workers continues to grow, and as a civic University, we want to provide access for people from all backgrounds to take up these opportunities. Chemistry for All takes elements from our internationally recognised research and translates that to younger pupils, providing a stimulating and exciting teaching environment.”
Dr Angela Hall, STEM Education Consultant | Design4Ed said:
“Chemistry for All research uses surveys and interviews to explore the barriers to achieving an undergraduate chemistry student population that reflects the social make-up of the local community. By studying the schools taking part in the longitudinal, innovative programmes designed by LJMU and other universities, we hope to learn how university outreach programmes can become more effective.”