School perspective: Engaging students in ‘live’ science projects

The My Asthma in School Programme team includes healthcare professionals, academics, and science communicators to create a programme that covers healthcare needs and designed to engage participants. Also involved in developing the workshops were film and theatre professionals, and young people, who we consulted throughout to make sure we were developing something that is relevant and relatable for them.

So, we know why we think our programme is great, but we wondered, what exactly is it about the programme that interests schools?

We asked Mr Nick Galvin of The Coopers’ Company and Coborn School in Upminster what prompted him to sign up his school. Nick is a Senior Laboratory Technician and the school’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) Coordinator.


Q: What prompted you to get involved and sign up Coopers’ Coborn to participate in the programme?

NG: “Part of my role as STEM Coordinator is to encourage as many students as possible, from across all year groups, to actively participate in STEM projects whenever possible. The My Asthma in School programme offers a chance for some students to take part in a University research study, which also benefits our school as a whole.”


Q: As you know, this programme aims to support, encourage, and empower students to manage their asthma. Do you have experience of any other health initiatives or programmes delivered in schools during your career?

NG: “To my knowledge, I cannot think of any other programme that specifically targeted health in schools for a specific problem, such as asthma. There have been general government-led initiatives for obesity, and of course, Jaimie Oliver’s campaign of school food. The My Asthma in School programme is unique in a sense it is looking to address an issue which is on the rise in school children, but is often overlooked by many public bodies.”


Q: Generally speaking, do you think there is sufficient training or information regarding asthma in schools?

NG: “Most students gain their information from healthcare providers and family members. While the topic of asthma does arise throughout various topics in secondary school science lessons, this would be a whistle-stop tour of breathing problems as a whole. It’s likely there are some exceptions to this, but most schools do not have a dedicated healthcare team to inform students of health issues. All students should have access to a School Nurse for discussing health issues, but gaining specific information for specific conditions can be difficult.”


Q: Would you encourage other schools to get involved with the project?

NG: “I would, without hesitation, encourage as many schools as possible to take part in the project. The more schools that take part, the more data is available for use by the scientists to monitor how effective the programme is. Also, it would allow a greater proportion of the generation to grow up, knowing how best to deal with their medical condition, also alleviating some time spent in GP’s surgeries.”


Q: Finally, what are you most excited about with regards to the project?

NG: “Personally, I am most excited about seeing the students partake in the project. Watching students learn is always a fulfilling experience, and watching them learning about an area of STEM is even better! Having our School associated with the project is also a major boost for our school, to encourage students to apply here as a school that actively participates in ‘live science’ projects.”


We want as many schools as possible involved, so go to the Get Involved page to find out more about how we can deliver the programme at your school. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions about our conversation with Nick, or about getting involved in the programme!