LSHTM's young scientists' programme
For over a decade, LSHTM has been running a young scientists' programme young people aged 14-18 from disadvantaged schools. We have taken students from schools across Barking and Dagenham since 2001, and are still the only university ever to offer an academic work experience programme for young people from the borough. Since 2008 have also been working with one new school from Westminster council, and most recently we have hosted students from Camden, Croydon, Greenwich, Islington and Lambeth.
What do young scientists do at LSHTM?
The schools we support face enormous challenges, but have talented young students who are really keen on science, We give them a chance to see how it works in the real world, by supporting them in conducting and original piece of independent research. Students work in pairs to devise a hypothesis, conduct some original research, and prepare a presentation for an open scientific seminar on their last day (see personal pages). In this they are supervised by staff or PhD students, and have PhD or MSc students as mentors. Students get passes, computer logins and LSHTM emails. They get lunch here and work alongside us for the 2 weeks, interacting with LSHTM staff and students and visiting different parts of the LSHTM. In past years they have also made trips to other organisations, including the Wellcome Trust Library, Houses of Parliament and the Royal Society.
Click here to see examples of the research by previous young people at LSHTM
Involvement of staff and student volunteers
The young scientists programme is run entirely by LSHTM staff and student volunteers. These volunteers support the students in conducting the project, and many find this project beneficial and rewarding. The following quotes are typical:
- Research degree student and mentor: “Being a mentor is fun! It's refreshing to work with people who've not been exposed much to the public health research world- they come with fresh ideas, perspectives and questions to make you think. The presentations given by the students are always a highlight. They give really engaging presentations in front of lots of experienced academics, and take power point to new levels!“
- Staff member who supervised a project: “Just wanted to say well done with all the organisation for the work experience visits; I really enjoyed my (surprisingly hassle-free) involvement, and was extremely impressed with the quality of work that Charlie and Matthew produced in such limited time. Thanks for the chance to take part”
- Staff member who attended the final seminar: “Where were they from? ... I was amazed at the quality of the work, and how much time must have gone to prepare the students to the high standard that they presented. Were they GCSE students or A level students? “ [NB they were first year GCSE students]
- Professor Sir Andy Haines: “[This programme] has persuaded many, including me, to consider community and public engagement as a fundamental part of our scientific institution's role”.
The programme has won multiple awards. In 2007 the programme's founder, Carolyn Stephens, was awarded a Royal Society Kohn Award for excellence in science communication, and the London Education Partnership Award for individual academic excellence in improving participation of young people in higher education. More recently we were presented by Westminster council with a Certificate of excellence in 2009 and Anna Goodman won a Higher Education Student Volunteering Award in 2010.
I'm a school student - can I come and do work experience?
During school term times, we generally only take students in groups during fixed sessions which we arrange directly via schools. LSHTM does occasionally take students at other times if they are themselves able to find a staff member willing to supervise them - for example, friends of relatives of LSHTM staff. If you are able to arrange this then we can help you sort out passes and email access. In some years we also run work experience programmes during the summer holidays (usually a week in August). If you would like to add yourself to the waiting list for the session (if it happens) then you are very welcome to email Anna Goodman at email@example.com, but unfortunately we can't promise anything...
Organisers and further information
Carolyn Stephens started the young scientists' programme in 2001, and ran it for many years with the support of Ruth Willis and colleagues from Barking and Dagenham. Since 2007 Anna Goodman has taken over the organisation of the programme. The programme is run entirely by volunteers drawn from across LSHTM, and at present is generously funded by LSHTM board member Tony McClellan.
To find out more about LSHTM's young scientists' programme, please contact Anna Goodman on firstname.lastname@example.org.