18 March 2020

DanStem scientists reached out to a new target audience

public engagement

On February 24 DanStem hosted a group of 15 students, age of 13-15 from Engskolen. Engskolen is a public special school located in the heart of Vesterbro in Copenhagen. The school hosts kids with learning disabilities and provides them with further assistance to comprehend with intellectual, emotional, motoric or social challenges.

By DanStem PhD student Anna Maria Drozd
DanStem has a rich public engagement curriculum, but this is the first time DanStem scientists disseminate science to students coming from a special school.

“DanStem public engagement aim is to reach out to many segments of the society, including audiences that we would not normally reach. We often interact with young adults at high school level or with the general public at culture night. But these events often draw huge crowds and therefore are not necessarily places where every child feels comfortable to ask and explore”, says Senior Scientist Mette Christine Jørgensen

Research Coordinator Simone Wenkel and Senior Scientist Mette Christine Jørgensen are leading the DanStem public engagement activities and felt fortunate when were approached by Engskolen school.

“These kids are less likely to be exposed to our traditional scientific outreach events, so it fits to the DanStem outreach philosophy to provide underserved groups access to scientific research”, says Simone.

“We would like to be in dialogue with people, students, citizens and patients beyond our common audiences. To do so, we are actively reaching out to different groups and aim to co-develop novel activities that will offer an appropriate way to introduce them to science,” adds Mette.

The event offered a mix of activities; the students were introduced to university life, and learned about education facilities, logistics department, supporting and animal facilities as well as to the lab advanced waste handling.

“We went through basics of biology, explaining what a cell is, what it does and what kind of cells we have in our body. We had a little quiz about cells and talked a little about stem cells and their roles in the body. Then, I explained about the pancreas which is my organ of interest and why I study it in mice, as well as its importance for humans. I explained how diabetes develops when the pancreas does not function properly”, Mette Christine Jørgensen

Even though the group had been challenged by many of the situations, the students had a positive experience throughout the whole day. 

The day ended with smiling faces and gratitude from both teachers and students. “It is our privilege to offer a large variety of groups access to scientific research and ideas”, sums up Simone.