Award for science engagement activities with local children

Dr Jean-Christophe Denis received an External Engagement and Impact Award from the School of Biological Sciences in December 2020 for engagement work he undertook last year.

He was involved in the delivery of boxes containing science experiments to around 2000 children in the Craigmillar, Moredun and Gilmerton areas of Edinburgh. He also helped run weekly online science clubs during the school term, providing all the necessary equipment and running online live sessions to pupils from six primary schools in the same area.

Dr Jean-Christophe Denis (or JC as he is known) is the School’s Ogden Outreach Officer, and he received the award alongside Dr Janet Paterson, Public Engagement Officer at the School of Biological Sciences, and Dr Cathy Southworth, Community Engagement Manager at the Bioquarter who were also involved in the work.

Dr JC Denis commented:

Having worked closely with the Craigmillar and Moredun communities over the past year, I felt it was vital to maintain our relationships despite the challenging conditions, and to support pupils and their families during a tough year. Together with Cathy and Janet, we decided to provide science kits to all primary school aged children in the area, an initiative which met a lot of success and enthusiasm from children, parents and schools alike. We then offered online live science  clubs to pupils in these communities. We originally feared it would not be an effective way to deliver science and build relationships, but it ran very smoothly and the children enjoyed the sessions very much, and clearly built their enthusiasm for science further. This success is largely due to the Physics undergraduate students, Annabelle Avery and Cristina Cortes, who led these online session, and to whom I am extremely grateful.

2020 is the first year the School of Biological Sciences has granted External Engagement and Impact Awards. Dr JC Denis said:

I am very grateful and honoured to have received this Award alongside my colleagues Cathy and Janet. 2020 has been a very challenging year for Public Engagement and Outreach, as we have had to totally change the way we work, so it was heart-warming to receive such an Award in recognition for our work in these difficult times.