The droso4schools project: long-term scientist-teacher collaborations to promote science communication and education in schools

Sanjai Patel, Sophie DeMaine, Joshua Heafield, Lynne Bianchi, Andreas Prokop

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Science communication is becoming an increasingly important part of a scientist’s remit, and engaging with primary and secondary schools is one frequently chosen strategy. Here we argue that science communication in schools will be more effective if based on good understanding of the realities of school life, which can be achieved through structured participation and/or collaboration with teachers. For example, the Manchester Fly Facility advocates the use of the fruit fly Drosophila as an important research strategy for the discovery processes in the biomedical sciences. To communicate this concept also in schools, we developed the ‘droso4schools’ project as a refined form of scientist-teacher collaboration that embraces the expertise and interests of teachers. Within this project, we place university students as teaching assistants in university partner schools to collaborate with teachers and develop biology lessons with adjunct support materials. These lessons teach curriculum-relevant biology topics by making use of the profound conceptual understanding existing in Drosophila combined with parallel examples taken from human biology. By performing easy to implement experiments with flies, we bring living organisms into these lessons, thus endeavouring to further enhance the pupil’s learning experience. In this way, we do not talk about flies but rather work with flies as powerful teaching tools to convey mainstream curriculum biology content, whilst also bringing across the relevance of Drosophila research. Through making these lessons freely available online, they have the potential to reach out to teachers and scientists worldwide. In this paper, we share our experiences and strategies to provide ideas for scientists engaging with schools, including the application of the droso4schools project as a paradigm for long-term school engagement which can be adapted also to other areas of science.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberYSCDB-2288
JournalSeminars in Cell and Developmental Biology
Early online date23 Jul 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Social responsibility
  • education
  • school
  • biology
  • teachers
  • science communication
  • public awareness
  • Drosophila
  • fundamental research
  • public engagement


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