Inspiring the next generation of scientists is fun but not always easy, especially when they haven’t even decided to become scientists yet!

Our SOLAR outreach team engaged and inspired primary school children at the recent STEMtastic event, organised by the West End School’s Trust (WEST) and held in the Discovery Museum‘s Great Hall.

Team SOLAR at the Discovery Museum

The event aimed to raise aspirations in children aged 10/11 from the Primary Schools in the West End of Newcastle, encouraging them to think about careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths).

Steph McGovern from BBC breakfast hosted the day and her North-Easterly charm did not disappoint. Steph brought along inspiring videos and well wishes from famous faces including Gary Lineker, Dawn French and Dan Walker. They were a great surprise, the children loved them…. and so too did the adults!

Gary Lineker wishing the West End School children a fantastic STEM day in the Discovery Museum

Steph interviewed our three SOLAR students, asking them about university life and the degrees that they are studying. Dan and Emma did a fantastic job telling the students about Biomedical Sciences and James told them about the joy of the research aspects in the MSci in Biomedical Genetics.

Dan Odell, Emma Weir, and James Cassidy being asked about studying science at Newcastle University by Steph McGovern
Dan Odell, Emma Weir, Steph McGovern and James Cassidy in the Great Hall of the Discovery Museum

The SOLAR students taught the primary kids the importance of the immune system in keeping us healthy and the good and bad bacteria that are in the environment.

The children used a USB microscope to look at red and white blood cells. They also had great fun looking very closely at clothes, skin, hair and we even had one child who was obsessed with zooming in on their scab!

West End School children using our USB microscope to look at the fibre detail on their jumpers

The children tested their hand washing skills using UV gel and light in the germ transmission station, ran by James.

To highlight how easily germs are spread, James asked one student to put UV gel (our pretend germs) on their hands and pass a pen to another student. The pen then got passed from one student to the next until all had touched it. When they put their hands under UV light, all of the students had ‘germs’ from that original person. So, always wash your hands folks!

The primary kids designed their own bacteria with Emma, deciding if they were goodies or baddies and what imaginative superpowers they had, from invisibility to killing bad bacteria to giving you super strength!

Finally, they donned white lab coats with Dan and were taught how to make snot – some rather realistically so.

Did you know that snot is green because of the dead white blood cells, specifically neutrophils? Neutrophils are one of the main infection fighters in your immune system, not bad for something so small you could fit 75 on a single pin head!

Now that’s what I call snot!

Dr Beth Lawry also gave a talk to the children about what it’s like being a scientist and her research into diagnosing pathogenic bacteria.

Dr Beth Lawry proudly showing off some of the big microbiology models made on the day

This STEM event truly was STEMtastic, well done SOLAR!

If you’re a School of Biomedical Sciences student and would like to join SOLAR, email



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