We are delighted to announce that our first ever virtual work experience course has won a LearnSci Teaching Innovation Award.
Held during the summer holidays, our virtual work experience course was available for 14-18 year olds based in the UK, and was hosted on a careers platform, Springpod. The interactive free course, entitled Genomics, Science and Data Careers, aimed to help young people experience the diverse range of career options in these fields, and learn about employability skills such as teamwork, communication and interview preparation.
The response we received to our promotional campaign was remarkable. Over 1,450 signed up for the programme, and 607 young people took the time over their summer holidays to achieve at least a Bronze level of course completion.
A really interesting innovation to recognise that education is not just within the formal setting with assessment outcomes, but also the importance of aspiration-raising and widening access.
The course content included engaging videos, interactive quizzes, activities and webinars. Participants also had the opportunity to ask questions to industry professional, thanks to staff from the Wellcome Sanger Institute, and across the Wellcome Genome Campus.
We utilised a number of LearnSci LabSims to give students an interactive experience and increase their lab skills and confidence, especially as many may not have access to biology labs. To contextualise the LabSims, we first created a video tour of a cell biology lab, allowing students to see and hear about the techniques and equipment used. We then selected cell biology LabSims to enable students to have a go at techniques they’d just learnt about. This reinforced their knowledge and increased their confidence with lab equipment.
This was the first time that we were able to provide this type of experience for young people nationally, removing financial and geographical barriers that many face when seeking in-person opportunities. We were also able to reach those who don’t have connections to the industry, or who’s parents have not previously studied science, with 31% of participants indicating that they are the first member of their family planning to go to University.
Our virtual work experience course received excellent feedback, with an average rating of 8.4 out of 10. We also saw some impressive increases in their awareness of careers in the industry, how confident they feel about finding a job in the future, and how confident they’d feel about speaking to an industry professional.
We worked with staff from across the Wellcome Genome Campus, from lab-based roles, data roles and non-scientific roles to highlight the massive diversity of jobs here.
It’s been amazing to see the student feedback from this course, and we’re excited for this to become a staple part of our careers offering.
Wellcome Connecting Science acknowledges that access to science education and engagement is not equal. As part of the same Wellcome-funded organisation as the Wellcome Sanger Institute, we are committed to raising the aspirations of young people and to encourage them to explore careers in science through our schools engagement programme. In addition to this virtual offer, other initiatives for young people this year have included: Genome Academy, an in-person work experience opportunity, with 18 places available for Year 12 students to attend a 3-day immersive experience on-Campus; a new series of careers videos; and our continued offer of visits to Campus, and visits to schools and colleges in the East of England.
If you’d like to hear about future virtual work experience opportunities, or learn more about our resources and opportunities for learners and educators, you can follow us on Twitter (X), LinkedIn or sign up to our schools and learning newsletter.