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Ailish Gillepsie & Fairuz Bennai
3rd year Undergradduate Biotechnology students
Cell EXPLORERS Prep/Training/Data Analysis Coordinators
Cell EXPLORERS & Us...
We have volunteered with Cell EXPLORERS in various ways in the past, and have highly enjoyed the experience. This year, we were lucky enough to become part of the amazing management team and be involved in the organizational work behind the scenes.
Our job as preparation and training coordinators entails organising all the materials and solutions required for both Fantastic DNA and Little Cells sessions. We prepare the demonstrator boxes for each school visit along with the equipment the demonstrators will need.
We also organise training sessions for new volunteers interested in being part of the Fantastic DNA Roadshow, where we demonstrate the complete session, give tips and advice for the day and cover other various aspects of Cell EXPLORERS. Anyone can come along to a training session to have their questions answered and help get set up for a school visit. We also hold presentation training sessions for the volunteers, where they have the opportunity to practise and improve their presentation skills with us, in a relaxed and comfortable environment.
Why do we do it?
Overall, we would highly recommend taking on this role to anyone who may be interested in applying in the future. Not only have we gained a lot of experience in laboratory management and basic laboratory skills, we have also been able to greatly improve our communication and organization skills, as well as meeting many new great people. By volunteering with Cell EXPLORERS one also has a chance to receive an ALIVE certificate, which looks really good on a CV!
Our experience with Cell EXPLORERS has overall been great and unforgettable. We have learned so much from the work we do and have a lot of fun doing it. The satisfaction of knowing how much enjoyment the Fantastic DNA and Little Cells sessions bring to kids proves to us that all the hard work and time is worth it! We highly recommend becoming a part of the Cell EXPLORERS team, whether it be by participating in the organizational aspect behind the scenes or demonstrating on school visits or science events. We are so happy to have volunteered with Cell EXPLORERS and know you will be too!
We also hold preparation sessions with the help of many volunteers to assemble all the materials required for both Fantastic DNA and Little Cells. The prep sessions are a vital part of Cell EXPLORERS and without the help of our amazing volunteers, we would not be able to carry out the fun and exciting school visits or events for the kids.
Tasks in these prep sessions range from the preparation of solutions such as saline and detergent to be aliquoted into test tubes, the handling of ethanol, and the organisation of smaller materials such as filter papers and warning-labelled bags. These sessions are organised every week for two hours in the Cell EXPLORERS laboratory where all the hard work is done.
Ailish & Fairuz recruiting new Cell EXPLORERS volunteer at the ALIVE volunteering fair 2015
Fairuz & Ailish, along with some of their amazing prep team, did their own Mannequin Challenge in the Cell EXPLORERS Prep lab, complete with Giant Pipette Duel!
3rd year Undergraduate Chemistry Student
My Experience with Cell EXPLORERS
Cell EXPLORERS & Me...
Hi, my name is Clare Austick and I am a 2nd Year Undergraduate Science student in NUI Galway.
Today, I would like to share with you, how much I'm enjoying the experience of being a Cell EXPLORER. I signed up for the Cell EXPLORERS programme not really knowing what I was getting myself into, but I have to say it has been one of the most exciting and rewarding experiences I have ever had to date. I have always had a massive interest in Science from a very young age. The world and how it works has always fascinated me. So, I took the opportunity as a Cell EXPLORER to share my love of Science with primary school children. Little did I know that this experience would have such an impact on me.
I never knew teaching could give you such a sense of achievement. It was exhilarating sharing knowledge and sparking the children's interest in something I'm so passionate about. It was quite an eye opener as I had never considered teaching to be a possible future career for me.
Why do I do it?
The reason why I wanted to go back to my old school was that I felt the children would be able to identify and connect with me as I was a past pupil. I wanted to give them an insight of what studying Science involves. Science is not just about boring facts, it can be exciting, challenging, adventurous and innovative. With Cell EXPLORERS, I have become more confident and developed some really useful skills such as presenting and communicating more effectively. It has also introduced me to a possible career path and intensified my enthusiasm for Science. If you want to get young learners hooked on Science and participate in a progressive, educational project, then why not become a Cell EXPLORER and join us on a meaningful and rewarding adventure.
Visiting my old school...
After five visits to different schools, I decided it would be interesting to return to my former primary school. It was a fantastic opportunity to catch up with my former sixth class teacher and participate in a learning experience from the other perspective. I was a little apprehensive but also very excited at the prospect. I gave the presentation on Fantastic DNA, explaining the role, function and importance of DNA. It was an interactive presentation and questions were asked and answered throughout.
Afterwards, the class split up into groups with a demonstrator at each table. DNA was then extracted from bananas. The kids had a brilliant time and enjoyed every moment of it. Towards the end, each demonstrator explained to the class what they were studying or working on at university. I found this particularly important as it showed the kids the range and diversity of options Science has to offer. It was also good to let them know that you don't have to make a concrete decision about career choices as some of the demonstrators are still in the process of making choices and decisions.
Clare, and another Cell EXPLORERS volunteer, Ronald Saraswat, at the NUI Galway October Open day 2016, where they demonstrated our Fantastic DNA! activity
(3rd year Biomedical Science student)
My Experience with Cell EXPLORERS
After 3 years working with us, Amira has started a PhD in cancer research in Dr Patrick Kiely's laboratory in the University of Limerick. She is now part of the Cell EXPLORERS UL Team!
Cell EXPLORERS & Me...
I joined the Cell EXPLORERS team in October last year and can honestly say it was one of the best decisions I have made since starting studying at NUI Galway.
When I joined I was taught how to be a demonstrator for their Fantastic DNA session and was soon off on a visit to a local Galway school. Working with primary school children from around Galway was so rewarding. In these sessions the students got to do a fun experiment in which they extract DNA from a banana while we taught them all about cells and genetics. Their interest, enthusiasm and sheer delight in the biochemistry and science was great to see. I especially enjoyed answering all the questions the young students had, from what it was like studying science in college to questions about mixing DNA, different cells and diseases. All the crazy “What if....?” questions that were thrown at me were hilarious even though for some all I could do was suggest they look it up when they got home!
Why did I do it?
Volunteering with Cell EXPLORERS has been invaluable to me. I have developed so many skills such as organisation, teamwork and leadership which are useful for my future career. I have met so many people, made great friends and have had a truly great time whilst being a part of Cell EXPLORERS and would without a doubt recommend it to anyone!
The Beginning of Brain Explorers!
In my second semester I was assigned a Community Knowledge Initiative project as part of my course. Inspired by working with Dr. Muriel Grenon and her Cell EXPLORERS projects, my team and I decided to create a new workshop with Cell EXPLORERS for this year’s Brain Awareness week. With help from Dr. Grenon and other volunteers we designed, created and implemented a two day workshop which we named Brain EXPLORERS! This workshop aimed to teach secondary level students about the brain and its cellular biology. We did this by engaging students in interactive activities such as puzzles, races and circuit games.
I found working with the older age group of students to be equally enriching. Our work was particularly satisfying when students happily told us how much our workshop would help them with their Leaving Certificate Biology course and how much they enjoyed the out of classroom learning experience. This year, we are improving our Brain Explorers workshop to make it bigger and better for the Galway Science and Technology Festival!
Martina Mannion & Amira Madhi holding the Brain EXPLORERS Stall at the Galway Science and Technology Festival 2015