De-mystifying science: Engaging the community to make a difference
Keywords:Widening Participation, Widening Access, Higher Education, Awareness Raising, Social Responsibility
There is clear evidence that for young people from relatively low socioeconomic backgrounds, science subjects can be invaluable by providing a means by which they can better engage with the modern world and take advantage of the opportunities it affords. For such young people, however, the classroom is not always a welcome environment to hear about science; different approaches are required in order to engage with such individuals. The main aim of this activity therefore was to raise the profile of science and pharmacy in an exciting yet informal manner and in so doing promote higher education.
The Manchester Pharmacy School hosted a Community Open Day event primarily targeting disadvantaged young learners and their families to explore the science behind the drug development process through a range of fun-filled, engaging activities and in so doing, raise awareness of higher education and what it can offer. Active contributions from local schools and drama groups enhanced community engagement. Feedback was assessed by a combination of structured questionnaire and free text responses.
Over 300 people attended, two-thirds (71%) of whom were from the local neighbourhood and not associated with the University. Visitor feedback gave the whole event an average Likert scale rating of 3.7 out of a possible 4. The community event was deemed an overwhelming success, providing an enlightened and positive view of higher education, science and pharmaceutical research. Activities such as this provide an excellent and alternative way of bringing higher education to the community in an exciting, educational yet informal manner.
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