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Durham University

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‘Scientists next door’ help keep pupils learning during lockdown

(11 June 2020)

A screenshot of a Scientist Next Door video call

We love sharing our passion for science with the next generation – and COVID-19 isn’t going to stop us!

Scientist Next Door

The Scientist Next Door project was started to help children keep learning during lockdown.

It was founded by staff at Edinburgh and Durham universities, and now involves scientists all over the world.

Small groups of scientists run video calls with a family to discuss the science behind daily processes and encourage children to undertake supervised experiments at home or demonstrate them live.

How is it going?

So far, the project has run over 40 calls, connecting with children aged four to 17.

They’ve covered topics including extracting DNA from a strawberry, comparing fingerprints, why boats float and balloons fly, how sunscreen works and why we see auroras in the dark winter sky.

There’s also lots to do on the project website, including information for young people on COVID-19, explaining what it is, debunking some myths, modelling a pandemic and experiments explaining why handwashing is important.

What do the families say?

One mother whose eight-year-old daughter took part later wrote on the project’s Facebook page: “Highly recommended. Fantastic sessions which fully engaged my 8 yr old, fun experiments and great resources. A unique opportunity to enthuse children about STEM subjects.”

Another mother commented: “This is amazing! My 9 year old son had a call with 4 scientists this afternoon, and he was absolutely captivated. They did a great job of explaining stuff and making him feel at ease. He is finding lockdown homeschooling a challenge, but this was a great teaching tool for him. He’s excited for the next week already.”

Get involved

Families wishing to get involved should visit: www.scientist-next-door.org