Bringing research to life

Public engagement with the School of Sport and Exercise sciences

Chest and arm xray

LJMU’s School of Sport and Exercise Sciences regularly undertakes outreach activity to ensure members of the public are aware of the work researchers are carrying out, and the positive impact it has on everyday lives.

Two recent events included a collaboration with the Bone Research Society and an anti-doping awareness day, funded by the Society for Endocrinology.

Pupils from across Merseyside took part in a range of interactive workshops as part of the annual international meeting of the Bone Research Society (BRS), including video tracking of movement with LJMU’s Professor Gabor Barton; handling of impressive bones including a hippopotamus skull and an elephant femur, with Dr Alistair Bond of the University of Liverpool; understanding the material properties of bones, with Dr Alison Gartland of the University of Sheffield, and demonstrations of the internal structure of bones, with Emma Morris from the University of Oxford, using balloons to symbolise red and white blood cells and fat cells.

Commenting on the workshops, Laura Morrin, Teacher at Kirkby High School, commented: “It’s fantastic for the pupils to get out of the classroom and get hands-on with science and bring it to life. Spending time at LJMU has helped make them realise that going to university is accessible and achievable, and encourages them to think about their careers and what they would like to do in the future.”

Also during the annual meeting of the BRS, LJMU’s Dr Zoe Knowles gave a presentation on the principles and practice of public engagement and to conclude the day, LJMU’s Professor Jarvis, who was the main organiser of the event, was part of the team who delivered a public lecture on the musculoskeletal system at the University of Liverpool.

The Doping in Sport event, made possible with funding from the Society for Endocrinology, was organised to raise awareness to local schools and coaches about the health and ethical implications of drug taking in sport. The event, which was endorsed by the British Pharmacological Society, BASES and the British Dietetic Association, saw presentations from UK Anti-Doping, Stephen Watkins of the Rugby Football Union and LJMU’s Dr Graeme Close and Professor Greg Whyte OBE. There were also interviews with athletes Katie Hesketh - water polo, Hannah Clowes - gymnastics, Chris McCready - football, and Henry Cookey - taekwondo. Interactive sessions were led by the Research Institute of Sport and Exercise Sciences PhD students, post doctorates and staff, as well as members of the Art and Design Academy and Humanities and Social Science. 

In attendance were 72 GCSE and A-level pupils and teachers, plus 10 local coaches.

Feedback was very positive, with organiser Dr Claire Stewart commenting: “Following the event we have had invitations to deliver tailored sessions to coaches around doping in sport and one school is in discussion about developing a Royal Society Partnership grant with us. I am proud to have been part of this fantastic public engagement event at LJMU and I look forward to similar events in the coming years.”

Dr Edward Harcourt, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (External Engagement), expressed the importance of public engagement events, commenting: “Engagement is maturing and becoming an increasingly important part of the mission of universities – and we at LJMU are aiming to be among the foremost universities in the UK in creating new architectures of knowledge: created, brokered and communicated by universities through interactions with their public audiences.”

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