Further details of the project can alternatively be referred via this 'FAQ'
What is the background of the project?
This project has grown from a former Wellcome-trust funded project involving At-Bristol, The Centre for Life and Nowgen who collaboratively pioneered a new molecular biology workshop for post-16 students.
This workshop, known as 'A Question of Taste' has been a huge success, giving students the opportunity to take part in a full day hands-on PCR workshop and explore the story behind the evolution of differences in tasting within populations. To date, nearly 2,700 students have participated in the workshops at these three centres and the feedback has been hugely positive. The workshop was created as part of the Wellcome Trust's Darwin Year.
The Hands-on DNA project will train centres with experience in molecular biology on the 'A Question of Taste' workshop, and will train others on a shorter two hour workshop, to reach the shared aims and visions of ASDC, the Wellcome Trust and the project partners that all students across the country can have the opportunity to explore evolution through molecular biology techniques, experiencing these techniques first-hand.
What are the criteria on which new organisations were selected?
Applications are sought from not-for profit and charitable organisations across the UK.
Priority will be given to organisations who:
Have a remit to engage the public and school students with science*
Are members of ASDC, or who could become members of ASDC
Have access to publically accessible venues for the majority of the year
Have expertise in engaging students with science
Have existing education or learning personnel
Can demonstrate the desire and ability to embed one of the workshops into their future learning programmes
Are science and discovery centres or museums
Geographical Considerations: Our vision is to make the opportunity to explore evolution through high-quality, engaging molecular biology experiences, accessible to students across the UK. Therefore in the selection of the 15 new organisations, consideration will be given to a national spread of workshops, ensuring all areas of the UK are covered. To make these workshops sustainable we aim to avoid organisations competing for the same students, and this will be relevant to our selection.
Please note, the workshops are already being delivered in Bristol, Manchester and Newcastle and therefore, to ensure the long-term sustainability of these workshops, we will not consider for applications from these cities.
In addition to geographical considerations, we will also consider the amount of equipment required and choice of workshop when selecting the 15 new organisations.
Examples of those who might apply:
Science and Discovery Centres
Scientific Institutions with a remit for education, and engagement with science
We will consider applications from the following if they can demonstrate that they fulfill the criteria of organisations which will be given priority:
We would be happy to receive applications from the following if in partnership with organisations with year-round publicly accessible venues such as science centres and museums:
University Departments without a dedicated outreach or teaching space
ASDC, along with the Wellcome Trust and project partners, will review submitted applications and select 15 organisations to participate. Applications and proposals will be assessed according to the following criteria:
Experience of, or strong willingness to learn, hands-on molecular biology workshops: Essential
Strong links to local schools and teachers: Essential
Ability to integrate the new workshop into your existing schools programme: Essential
Ability to embed the workshop into your FUTURE schools programme so that it will continue to run after June 2012: Highly desirable
Infrastructure within your organisation, or through a partnership sufficient to deliver molecular biology workshops into the future: Essential
Experience of facilitating dialogue activities: Desirable
Significant reach, either in terms of school visitor numbers, or geography: Desirable
When will we be notified if we’ve been successful?
ASDC will be notifying all applicants on the 15th of July 2011 if they have been successful
Who are the project team?
The project team is a collection of people from ASDC, who are coordinating the project centrally, and the project partners; At-Bristol, Centre for Life in Newcastle and Nowgen in Manchester. For some further information of the members of the project team, please visit the team page.
What's going to be included in the handbooks?
The handbooks will be designed to be a one-stop-shop of information in relation to the running of the workshop you have chosen. This will include:
a clearly written protocol
information on the scientific background at the basis of the workshop
clear explanations of how each step works and why it's done
top tips to running a successful workshop
troubleshooting guide to overcome most common technical problems
a guide to address commonly asked questions from students
Learning materials to support the workshop
Overall the handbooks, along with experiences gained during your training can be used to train up further members of staff in your organisation, helping ensure it becomes embedded in to your future education programmes.
What's going to be included in the marketing pack for schools?
Participating organisations will be provided with a marketing pack, enabling them to advertise the workshops to schools ahead of time, giving maximum potential to attracting school groups. The pack will include:
descriptions of the workshops
example press releases
copyright-free images to use in your promotion to schools (in your paper programmes or online)
advice on how to reach teachers of the 14-15 or post-16 year old student groups
a list of dates to link your workshops to (e.g. Nobel prize dates)
guidelines on how much to charge (and how to operate a deposit scheme to protect your finances)
guidance on how to use the branding and logos associated with the project and workshops
For participating organisations
What is on Offer?
The equipment you need to run your chosen workshop (an average of £5,666 per centre)
A choice of two schools workshops, one for organisations with experience of molecular biology, the other for 'new starters'
Full and detailed training on how to run your workshop, including:
A two day training academy for two of your staff, with their travel, food and accommodation paid for.
A visit to one of the partner science and discovery centres (At-Bristol, Centre for Life and Nowgen) to watch the workshop being run with school students, with your travel expenses paid
'Buddy training' - you will be paired with an expert trainer from one of the partner centres who will provide support and training, including two visits to your organisation to help set up and run your first workshops.
On the phone technical support from ASDC
A full marketing pack, including photos of the workshops for your schools leaflets, curriculum links for teachers, press releases and suggested charging models for the workshops
Full assessment of the equipment you will need by ASDC, delivery of this to your site and any training required on its use
An invitation to the National Hands-on DNA Meeting in spring 2012 to meet all those in the UK interested in this topic and to join the network
What is the timescale of the project/when are the deadlines?
Selection Process begins: 1st June 2011
Deadline for applications: Midnight on 4th July 2011
Notification of success: 15th July 2011
Discussions with the 15 organisations to assess the equipment they need, including site visits for 10 organisations: 18th July - 18th Aug 2011
Delivery of marketing pack: Oct-Nov 2011
Delivery of equipment: Oct-Nov 2011
New workshop Training Academy: 2-3rd Nov 2011
Question of Taste Training Academy: 4-5th Oct 2011
Deadline for buddy training: 16th Feb 2011
Deadline for delivery of five workshops by new organisations: 30th March 2012
National Hands-on DNA Meeting: 17th April 2012
Project ends and ASDC report back to Wellcome Trust on outcomes: 30th April 2012
Though this project runs up to the end of April 2012, a strong aim is to embed the workshops nationally, so that they will continue to be delivered beyond the end date, and that the network of molecular biology specialists that results from this project will help ensure the longevity of these activities beyond the scope of the project.
What will my organisation's commitment be?
To be considered for this project, your organisation needs to commit to the following:
To embed the workshops in your future schools programme
To run at least five schools workshops before March 30th 2012
For two staff to participate in all elements of the training programme (your expenses paid)
To send two staff to the National Hands-on DNA Meeting
To market the workshops in accordance to guidelines given by the Wellcome Trust and the project team
Organisations wishing to apply should refer to the training and delivery schedule above to ensure that their chosen members of staff on this project are available to attend the academies and keep to other deadlines.
Will any expenses be covered to attend the training?
Travel and accommodation expenses (but not staff time) will be covered for two members of staff to attend the training academy of your organisation's chosen workshop, both of which last for two days, and food will be provided during these days.
Travel costs (but not staff time) will be covered for a visit to watch the workshop being delivered to a school group in one of the project partner centres, that you will be 'buddied' with.
If you wish to attend any additional training (such as the other training academy), you are welcome to do so, however your expenses will not be covered.
Can these workshops be delivered to groups other than school groups?
The aim of this project is to make the opportunity to explore evolution through high-quality, engaging molecular biology experiences accessible to students across the UK. Whilst these workshops can equally work perfectly well for other audiences, for the most part we will only be considering those which have been delivered to school groups. You are certainly allowed to deliver them to other groups, such as adult groups, however we will only count a small proportion of these workshops in our evaluation and envisage that for the most part that they will be delivered to school groups.
Can these workshops be done as an outreach activity?
We don't envisage that these workshops would be suitable as an outreach activity, as they require the appropriate facilities to effectively and safely use the equipment. However, we are prepared to discuss this, for example if you are already offering related activities, or are highly experienced in offering similar activities as outreach.
Can we charge schools to attend the workshop?
Yes, and we would suggest, in order to ensure the workshops are sustainable for your organisation, that you do this. Currently the project partners, At-Bristol, Centre for Life and Nowgen charge for their workshops. ASDC will provide you with advice as to how much to charge, and how to run a deposit scheme to safe-guard your income and resources.
Who should we send on the training?
We would ask that you make a decision as to who you send on the training course. We would suggest that these are people who have experience in delivering workshops, and that you are happy for these members of staff to then train further staff in your organisation. For the new two hour workshop, neither members staff need to have a background in molecular biology. For A Question of Taste, it would be better if they at least have experience delivering DNA-based workshops.
What type of facilities would be appropriate to deliver these workshops?
To be able to run either of these workshops, the most basic facilities required would be a room with table and chairs and with an electricity supply, and access to water (does not need to be inside the room necessarily). Any room you are currently using for your education programme would be sufficient.