Fife STEM Connect-ability Festival workshop

Thursday 23 June 2022

Public Engagement – Henry Rae holds Fife STEM Connect-ability Festival workshop at Castlehill Primary School

An interactive, in-person medical sciences workshop was held at Castlehill Primary School on Monday, June 13.  The session, entitled “Messing with your Senses”, was facilitated by the School of Medicine’s teaching lab technician, Henry Rae, and assisted by Senior Lecturer, Dr John Winpenny, and was a part of the Fife STEM Connect-ability Festival.  68 pupils and their teachers from primary six participated.

Dr John Winpenny operates the “Swing Box” for students to experience how external stimuli can affect balance

Experiments and demonstrations during the session were modelled around actual practicals from the University’s undergraduate syllabus, with technical aspects simplified.  Henry expressed his delight at seeing the pupils learn quickly and show a great level of interest in the medical sciences: “I was amazed by how much knowledge they had already.  They were also very inquisitive and did a lot of deductive reasoning”, he said. “At the end of the day, even if the pupils forget every little detail which we told them but remember that science is good fun and medicine is interesting, that will be a win. Every time they see something medical or science-related, they are not going to switch-off thinking ‘that’s too difficult”.

A pupil wears modified ear defenders as part of a demonstration of how hearing works

The pupils each got a chance at various experiments including demonstrations on focus and balance using the Wobble/ Swing Box, the Barany Chair and posture experiments, lessons on how the ears and eyes work using modified ear defenders, depth perception experiments, experiments on the interaction of our senses using the McGurk Effect and blind-spot experiments, and many more.  Teachers were not left out and got a chance at each of the experiments.  Henry hopes that by getting the teachers involved, the experiments will carry on not just in these three classrooms but extend to other classes.

Henry highlighted the continued support from the University and School leadership for Public Engagement and thanked Dr John Winpenny who volunteered to help with the workshop.  He will be continuing his public engagement sessions at Newport Primary School on the 24th of June, where the pupils will no doubt be excited to participate in these fun but educational experiments.

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