Proceedings of The Physiological Society

Physiology 2016 (Dublin, Ireland) (2016) Proc Physiol Soc 37, PCA109

Poster Communications

Physiology Outreach in the Faculty of Biomedical Sciences, University of Bristol

L. K. Goodhead1, D. Davies1, N. Cave2, F. MacMillan1

1. Physiology and Pharmacology, University of Bristol, Bristol, United Kingdom. 2. Faculty of Biomedical Sciences, University of Bristol, Bristol, Bristol, United Kingdom.


In the Faculty of Biomedical Sciences we continue to deliver a large number of outreach activities for a wide range of public groups. All our activities are coordinated by an outreach assistant, a role which has been in place since 2013, resulting in a substantial increase in the volume of outreach delivered and the diversity of activities offered. Our outreach includes visits to schools and science events and hosting visits in our teaching laboratories. New events in 2015 included a biomedical sciences ‘taster day' for 60 local school children from widening participation backgrounds. Such was the success, this will be repeated annually with double the number of attendees. Aiding the expansion of our activities has been the provision of funds from the central University Widening Participation office. Existing contacts with schools and established activities have also been maintained, including use of the Mobile Teaching Unit (MTU), a specially-equipped lorry that expands into a classroom1. The MTU enables scientific equipment to be taken to schools, for example a Vitalograph to measure lung function, ECG monitors and pulse oximeters to demonstrate the diving reflex, and reaction timers to compare visual and auditory reaction times. Recently-developed sessions include an exploration of hearing and deafness and a practical session on size exclusion chromatography in the context of blood. The scope of visits to the University has been widened to include topics such as electrophoresis. A number of visits have also covered more general issues such as ethics and careers and also sought to engage all sectors of the community through 'knit a neurone' activities. Our outreach work has involved school students and members of the public in a wide range of contexts including primary and secondary schools, colleges and public events, such as Skirting Science (http://skirtingscience.wordpress.com/), Nailsworth Festival, University Open Days and Bristol Neuroscience Festival. It has been possible to provide free or reduced cost visits to a selected proportion of these events for qualifying pupils using Widening Participation funding. This has allowed the widest range of students possible to access our resources and information. In order to disseminate information about the scope of activities on offer, the webpages for outreach work in the Faculty (http://www.bristol.ac.uk/biomedical-sciences/outreach/) have been updated and linked to the Faculty homepage for ease of access. We are currently commissioning the production of short films for the website illustrating the activities on offer and are devising a series of outreach packages that schools can book. With the use of questionnaires and audience response devices, we are implementing a more rigorous evaluation and monitoring strategy to continually improve our work and provide a record of its impact linked to Widening Participation.

Where applicable, experiments conform with Society ethical requirements