Biomedical Science Taster Workshop for Schools

A collaborative project to produce a Biomedical Science taster workshop between Crompton View Primary School in Nottinghamshire and De Montfort University (DMU) in Leicester has just been completed. The project called SAPPHIRE (Scientific Analogies, Primary Schools and Higher Education) was led by Dr Graham Basten, a lecturer in biochemistry at De Montfort. This type of activity is useful in giving pupils and students a taste of biology courses at university, and during the workshop Dr Basten was using an iPAD to show how mobile devices can be useful in classroom teaching.

Biomedical Science Funding

The project was funded by a prestigious Royal Society Partnership Grant which allowed the school to run a University Science Week, providing students with a taste of biomedical science and biology courses at university. The project was also funded by a De Montfort University Teacher Fellowship awarded to Dr Basten. The week was based around healthy eating, and Dr Basten explored the benefits of fruit and vegetables with the children and measured folic acid levels in a range of foods using a test called an ELISA. Folic acid is an important B vitamin vital for many body functions, and the ELISA technique uses a piece of laboratory equipment called a spectrophotometer to measure the levels of folate in a test sample.

Biomedical Science Anatomical Model

Anatomical model used by Dr Basten

As part of the project, Dr Basten used an iPAD to teach about the human body using the “Visible Body” APP ( He linked to iPAD up to the classroom projector and displayed images of the body to the children to explain the anatomy of the lungs. He also used 3D anatomical models of the body which are used in biomedical science lectures and practicals at De Montfort. The children really enjoyed using the iPAD in the classroom and described the anatomy models as “brilliant” and “amazing”!

Lung Anatomy and Physiology

In another exercise Dr Basten explored how the lungs worked with children and talked about the effects of smoking. To explain how smoke can damage the delicate lung tissue, he used a sponge and treacle pudding to represent healthy and tar-damaged lung respectively! Diseased lung contains mucus and the damaged tissue cannot exchange gases effectively, and this is important because the primary function of the lung is to take in oxygen and expel carbon dioxide.

Healthy and Diseased Lungs

Models representing healthy lung (a sponge) and diseased lung (treacle pudding!)

The teacher also enjoyed seeing how an iPAD could be used in a classroom setting and commented,

“The children really enjoyed these sessions. They have enjoyed the equipment, equipment we don’t have in School. Graham has the knowledge that we as primary school teachers don’t have. Every child has wanted to take part in discussions at the end of the sessions and share their ideas and what they have learnt”.

The children captured their ideas and what they had learnt about biomedical science using the “Scribble Press” APP and the eBook is available to view online:

Crompton View Primary School eBook!