STEM Biomedical Science Week
During May Half Term, Year 10 Student Disha Mondal participated in an experience week with Science Oxford.
In the May half term, I went on an experience week with Science Oxford to 7 different organisations based around biomedical science: Vertex Pharmaceuticals, MRC Harwell, Cochrane UK, John Radcliffe Hospital, Abbot and Oxford Medical Sciences. I met 14 students (all from different schools) that were joining me on the experience too.
On Tuesday, we hit the ground running and taken to the Medical Research Council Institute in Harwell. Firstly, we saw the labs hosting the histology unit and then got stuck in with practical work. After, we were asked to wear full body suits and take an 'air shower'. The air shower was a metal box, just big enough for a person to fit in, and when asked to step inside, I was apprehensive. Although it wasn’t as terrifying as it seemed. We were accompanied to the area where they test gene modification on rats. An interesting experience, needless to say, and it opened my eyes about the magnitude of work and the scientific advancements being achieved right at this moment.
On Wednesday, we visited Vertex Pharmaceuticals in Oxford. Their research mainly focuses on genes, developments in sickle cell disease and cystic fibrosis. They work very closely with CRISPR technology which is a huge scientific step in genetic modification. What stood out to us the most was the workplace: the breakroom had a pool table, foosball and the best hot chocolate!
On Thursday, we went to the John Radcliffe Hospital. Focusing on bacteriology, virology and parasitology, we did practicals in the hospital labs. These experiments weren't for the squeamish. Lastly, we learned about the dangerous intelligence of cancerous tumours.
On our final day, we went to Abbott: a company centred around creating new technologies for diabetics. Also, we visited Oxford University's Medical Institute where we learned about DNA, including the research done by their students.
All in all, I am fortunate to have been offered the opportunity to experience work life in a STEM career. It has unquestionably sparked interest in this side of education but also made me conscious of how I can pursue many paths in science.
Disha Mondal, Year 10, Nightingale 7