IB is a fast-growing sector in Scotland and industry-ready graduates are in high demand by employers of all sizes. Raising awareness about industrial biotechnology as an attractive and accessible career opportunity is therefore high on the list of priorities for the IBioIC Skills team, who were delighted to host two of the five workshops at the hugely successful Chemistry @ Work event at University of Strathclyde on 13th and 14th June 2019.

Chemistry is everywhere
The workshops introduced over 200 high school students to the world of the circular economy and how chemistry plays a role in our daily lives. IBioIC Technical Director, Ian Archer opened the event by asking pupils and teachers to think of an everyday object that didn’t involve chemistry.  He has yet to be given an answer that he can’t disprove. Pupils returned throughout the day to challenge him, and left inspired to continue to think about the applications of the subject.

Biotechnology in the classroom
Pupils and teachers had opportunity to talk to the IBioIC team about the HND programme and different career options within the IB sector as well as how teachers could continue to deliver the learning back in the classroom.  The Skills Team are currently investigating how IB and the circular economy can be incorporated into the curriculum through the “Topical Science” area and would like to hear from teachers willing to work with us to explore further

Interactive Workshops
There were two interactive workshops delivered by IBioIC Masters students.  Holly Green and Josephine Giard, currently on placement with Glasgow Science Centre, introduced pupils to the circular economy and how we can all be more “circular” to benefit the environment.  The session saw pupils producing posters of the life cycle of coffee, inspired by the entrepreneurs behind IBioIC member company Revive-eco.  One of the remarkable posters is shown on the right.  The pupils were amazed by the breadth of IB technologies used in everyday life. One of them explained IB as “making renewable alternatives to everyday products and creating a circular economy”.

IBioIC Masters students Keziah Brown and Seda Ozaydin, currently on placement with member company Cellucomp, introduced students to the remarkable material Curran® and the products that can be made with it.  Did you know you could make a helmet from carrots

It was important to IBioIC and the organisers from the University, including Dr Jane Essex, a lecturer in Chemical Education at the University, that this event is accessible to all.  Jane has recently featured in an article in Chemistry World (June 2019; Access all areas), which updates readers on the quest to make chemistry education accessible to all - “Science feels, to many people, like a very elitist, exclusionary practice, and teachers and families are pre-selecting their child with special educational needs out of being interested in doing science”.

Increasing Knowledge
As a mark of the success of the event, pupils were challenged to tell us what IB was before and after the event. We captured some great knowledge increases such as:
Before - “A big company that focuses on how to change a way of life”
After - “A company that wants everything that we think that’s useless and they give it a use.”

Take a look at the word cloud for words most mentioned by the students during the event. 

Five organisations presented workshops

Financial support was received from:

Chemistry@Work was organised by Dr Kirsty Ross, University of Strathclyde

Many thanks to everyone who organised and helped with the event!

Rachel Clark and Maja Dolny
IBioIC Skills Team