Did you have an inspiring science teacher at school?

Issue: Soil

07 May 2015 article

With recent concerns around increasing drug resistance, and the spread of new infections such as Ebola, we should rightly be considering the microbiological legacy we will be passing on to future generations. And that is one very important reason the Society is committed to ensuring today’s schoolchildren are given every opportunity to broaden their understanding of microbiology.

For many children of school age, this understanding will come from an inspirational teacher. If you had one, you will know the impact they can have. The Society is especially keen to support these teachers and their schools. One of the ways we do this is by offering affordable School Membership to any primary, middle or secondary school or sixth form college in the UK or Ireland involved in teaching microbiology.

Over 500 schools are now members of the Society. We deliberately keep School Membership subscriptions low (it costs just £15 a year) to ensure as many children as possible can benefit from what we offer. And just what is it we do offer?

Broadly speaking, we support the delivery of high-quality classroom teaching through the provision of training, networking opportunities, grants and a series of resources.

In recent years, the Society has produced a number of resources for children including The Secret World of MicrobesAlgae: A Practical Resource for Secondary SchoolsViruses: A Practical Resource for Post-16 Biology Teachers. Single copies are made freely available to School Members. School Members also receive the magazine Microbiology Today, incorporating the regular Schoolzone section. In addition there are hard copy and downloadable posters, comics, books and fact files covering a range of curriculum subject material.

We also have a grants programme specifically aimed at schools. School Members can apply for a grant of up to £1,000. Grants can be used for a number of initiatives; from organising a visit to a working microbiology establishment, to running a school-based science week, to buying materials and equipment (outside of normal department resources) to support a microbiology activity.

One recent grant recipient, Ruth McClaren, from Barnstaple, ran an after school club for Key Stage 2 pupils to develop their scientific thinking and have some fun. “I wanted the pupils to understand that microbes are essential to all life on Earth, and that they are not all ‘germs’. Ruth was clearly successful in this endeavour as the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. In answer to the question “what did you like about the club?” many pupils responded with “everything”!

Teachers like Ruth play a very important part in switching on the ‘light bulb’ for children, to enable them to play their part in future scientific discovery.

You can play your part too. There are many more schools out there whose children could benefit from School Membership of the Society. They either haven’t heard of us or face financial constraints preventing them joining.

  • If you have teachers in your network, why not highlight School Membership of the Society? They may not be microbiologists themselves, but they will know the right contact in their school.
  • Bring School Membership to the attention of the schools in your neighbourhood. A phone call or a note to the headteacher could be all it takes.
  • If you have children or grandchildren at school, why not ask if their school has Society membership at the next parents’ evening? Asking that simple question could help provide the scientific inspiration for hundreds more children.
  • Consider ‘sponsoring a school’. If you would like to sponsor a school we can help. You may want to offer to pay for a neighbouring school or one with which you already have a connection. Alternatively, we can match you up with a school from here. For £15 a year, you can help a teacher inspire a new generation.

If you would like to help us bring School Membership to the wider microbiological community please contact us. Call the Acting Head of Membership Services Paul Easton on 020 7685 2680 or email him at [email protected].

Image: Teacher and student. erieika/iStock/Thinkstock. Science teacher helping students. Simon Fraser/Science Photo Library..