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Department wins grant to give children hands-on scientific experience

Surrey’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering has won a Royal Society Partnership Grant in partnership with a local primary school, which will give children the opportunity to take part in a practical scientific project.

Dr Pond (far right) with staff and students at the school.

The Partnership Grant has been awarded to the University in collaboration with Potters Gate Primary School in Farnham, Surrey. It will benefit the school’s 400-plus children not only by enabling them to take part in an environmental research project, but also by funding equipment such as microscopes which will be used throughout the curriculum.

The practical research project will involve key stage 2 children (aged seven to 11) monitoring the River Wey at a number of sample points, with each child getting the opportunity to take samples and analyse the water for parameters such as turbidity, nitrates and temperature, recording their results and looking for trends. The younger key stage 1 children (aged five to seven) will monitor the school pond and conduct simple experiments to illustrate how pollution may affect the water and organisms living in it.

As part of the project, the children will be invited to the University to present their findings to the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and enjoy a tour of the labs and campus. This will also be an opportunity for academics to talk to the children about the STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects and careers that might interest them in the future.

Lecturer Dr Kathy Pond, the primary applicant for the grant, said: “I’m delighted to have been awarded this grant from the Royal Society. The project will raise awareness of young children to the factors that may influence water quality in their environment, as well as developing and challenging them to use scientific skills.

“We hope that by providing hands-on experience, it will stimulate an early interest and awareness of potential STEM-related activities that may follow throughout their education.”

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