Outreach visits can either take place here at the University of Bristol or at your location for an individual visit or as part of a science or ethics week. Our sessions are based on key biomedical science topics and some examples of our popular ones are detailed below. Most sessions can be adapted to different key stages so please contact us to find out more. We also have information available to help you in planning your visit.
Physiology of the heart
Through this session exploring the inner workings of the heart. Students have the opportunity to measure their oxygen saturation, listen to heart valves, consider factors that affect heart rate, and find out how physiologists can record the electrical activity of the heart by taking their own ECG. This session uses images, models and clinical equipment, including an ECG machine, where the effects of exercise and the use of ECG recordings in medicine will be explained.
This session can be run acrosss all the key stages. It has proved extermely popular with post-GCSE students as the session covers content from the A level curriculum (where it can also be combined with A level respiratory system content if required). The session can be tailored for KS2, KS3 and KS4 and has been well recieved by all of these age groups.
Physiology of the lung
Discover how important the lungs are in gas exchange, how they are adapted to do this efficiently and can ultimately be compromised in disease. Using physiological equipment each student will record and be able to take away a trace of their vital capacity and forced expiratory volume. Pulse oximeters are used to measure oxygen saturation and gas analysers will measure the composition and differences in inspired and expired air. This session can include experimental design and hypothesis formation, allowing all students to participate in collecting physiological data for subsequent analysis.
Explore this brilliant organ through a number of hands-on activities and games:
- knit-a-neuron or make pipe cleaner neurons to find out what the brain is made of;
- stimulate the ulnar nerve to show how the nerves link to muscles;
- make brain hats to learn the different parts of the brain;
- have a go at the Stroop Test to show that it is impossible to multi-task;
- battle a friend on mind-flex game;
- meet Neurobot to find out how messages are sent to the brain.
If you are interested in Psychology outreach, please visit the School of Experimental Psychology public engagement pages.
Hear hear for the ear!
Students will learn about how the ear and sound waves work through an interactive demonstration. Students are able to see the depth of a range of sounds with a simple Spectrum Analyser app that shows a visual representation of frequency and amplitude. We will then consider how hearing can be damaged and the effect this has on the listener.
This session is very popular with KS1 and KS2 students but is suitable for all ages, including adult members of the public.
Diagnosis of diabetes mellitus
The rise of diabetes mellitus, word-wide, is reaching epidemic levels. In this session you will learn about the Biochemistry behind diabetes mellitus. You will perform a number of experiments which will allow you to determine whether a patient has Type I or Type II diabetes, measure glucose concentrations and levels of insulin from patient samples.
Studying and Investigating Micro-organisms
Prepare slides from your own throat swab and stain them using a Gram stain. Use light microscopy, to determine the shape and morphology of the bacterial cells. Observe live motile bacteria and use spectrophotometers to determine the bacterial growth curve. You will also have the opportunity of looking at some bacteria growing on agar plates and learn about antibiotic resistance, an emerging Public Health problem.
DNA – genes in a bottle
Everyone is unique, thanks to their DNA. In this workshop, learn more about the amazing molecule That is DNA, perform a DNA extraction from your cheek cells and make a necklace containing a vial of your own DNA. Making the necklace as individual as you!
Please note – this session can be modified to swap the DNA extraction from cheek cells to fruit (without the making of a necklace) if you’d prefer.
The Biochemistry of Forensic Science – CSI and Gel Electrophoresis
Unleash your inner detective by asking ‘Whodunnit?. Here, we will talk about DNA and its uses in forensic science. Perform an analysis of crime scene DNA and compare it to a range of suspect DNA samples. This session will include content on the polymerase chain reaction (PCR), restriction enxymes, gene cloning, and gel electrophoresis. Students can expect to learn how to use Gilson's Pipettes, use restriction enzymes, load agarose gels, and use gel electrophoresis to seperate and analyse crime scene DNA.
Genetics and Dividing Cells
Calculate the mitotic index of dividing garlic root hair cells, and water cress cells. Use our state of the art microscopes in Histology to visualise dividing cells, which you will stain and prepare in our laboratory. View master slides on the virtual microscope and study the finer details of mitosis.
See The Small Stuff – Electron Microscopy
Have a tour of our electron microscopy facilities, including looking at a transmission electron microscope, using a scanning electron microscope and receiving a guest lecture from an expert in the field which will cover A-level topics such as resolution and magnification in their talk. This will also include a short schools session letting pupils match the structure and function of different organelles to their name s and EM images.
Speak to a scientist
What better way to inspire the next generation of scientists than to meet one in the flesh? The University of Bristol is home to a huge number of world experts in different fields in Medical and Veterinary Sciences and we are happy to arrange a talk and Q and A session. See the list below for our current school talks.
STAN, the 'STandard mAN' is a human 'manikin' that permits interventions that cannot be performed on volunteers (such as extensive bleeding, climbing Everest or the effects of a specific drug). Stan, the Human Patient Simulator, is a state-of-the-art, life-sized, high-fidelity patient. He can be programmed to model any number of 'extreme' biochemical, physiological, pharmacological and pathological states - unfortunately for him - but provides a great learning model!
A few mouse clicks can transform the model from a healthy subject being used to demonstrate a fundamental physiological mechanism (eg the response to breathing hypoxic gas mixtures), to a patient in a disease-state requiring treatment (eg septic shock). This allows the demonstration of key principles of physiology that students find difficult when taught using traditional methods and classic experiments which are no longer possible using human subjects due to ethical constraints. We can arrange a session using STAN to show how patients can be assessed and treated in a variety of situations.
Specialist schools, festivals and other public events
Any of the school sessions can be adapted for a range of contexts, including:
- science festivals;
- hospital schools, secure children’s homes and other specialist educational groups;
- promotional and careers-related events.
The University of Bristol's Faculty of Biomedical Sciences carries out cutting edge research into the molecular causes of human disease and we are able to offer expert researchers to give science talks in your school. Our programme of talks is aimed at students in Years 11, 12 and 13 and will give an insight into some of the exciting research based at the University of Bristol. We have put together a choice of talks on a range of current and highly relevant topics, which currently include:
- 'Building with Biology: How synthetic biology will change your life' Professor Nigel Savery
- 'Protect and survive: DNA repair and the cancer genome' Professor Nigel Savery
- 'Cystic Fibrosis: Transformational drug therapies that tackle its root cause' Dr David Sheppard
- 'Why I'm taller than my father (but shorter than a giraffe)' Professor Harry Mellor
- 'The Ebola Virus: How bat-derived diseases threaten global health' Dr David Matthews
- 'No more drugs for superbugs: The end of the antibiotic age?' Dr Matthew Avison
- 'Breathing: Understanding the rhythm of life to help cure disease' Dr Ana Abdala
- 'Drugs: What are they good for?' Professor Neil Marrion
If you would like to arrange a speaker to visit your school or organisation then please contact us.