loretocollege (1)In the middle of June, 90 Year 12 students from Loreto College in Hulme took part in exciting and informative practical sessions at the University. The exercises, led by Dr Kathy Hentges, included the dissection of chicken eggs so that the students could study the developing embryo. They then designed experiments that demonstrated how temperature and salt solutions affect embryonic heart rate.

Researchers and lecturers from the Faculty of Life Sciences and the Faculty of Medicine and Human Sciences talked to the students and described the variety of research topics being studied in the University. The students seem to have enjoyed the meetings and practical sessions:

“The session was brilliant – I enjoyed talking to the academics.”

“Overall, the programme was excellent.”

“I really enjoyed it and found it interesting to be involved in the practicals.”

This visit was part of a larger project with Loreto College. Earlier in the year, Dr Hentges, Rebecca Williams, and Joe Timothy visited the college to teach 40 students about gene expression. Through practical experiments the students increased their knowledge of gene expression, PCR reactions, and gene structure. They were also encouraged to use these experiences in their ‘personal statement’ as part of their application to university.

These sessions with Loreto College are part of the University’s Widening Participation (WP) scheme, which aims to increase the recruitment of students from backgrounds that are traditionally underrepresented in Higher Education. The University’s recognition of the central importance of this aspect of our work is reflected by the fact that WP forms one of our core strategic goals. Dr Kath Hinchliffe commented on Loreto College and the WP scheme:

“The activities with Loreto College students are a superb example of how the Faculty is interacting with the local community to fulfil WP obligations. By actively engaging with potential future undergraduates, we raise awareness of the biological sciences, reveal the wealth of exciting career opportunities they provide, and deliver the key message that these opportunities are open to any individual with the potential to succeed, irrespective of his or her background.”

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