Informing the general public about cell migration - an outreach resource
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Outreach activities become an increasingly important part of a researcher's life, out of social responsibility as well as to meet expectations by research funding institutions. Yet, outreach activities are little supported by resources which provide guidance, strategies, examples and materials, and researchers are widely left alone with the task of re-inventing the wheel when starting to engage with the public. Whilst public platforms are slowly starting to be developed which provide support and resources for educational activities, initiative can also be taken at the grass root level to improve this situation. Here we show how final year undergraduate student projects can be used to deliver freely available outreach resources. Thus, the Faculty of Life Sciences at The University of Manchester runs projects on public engagement where students develop outreach exhibitions which they personally display on an open day at the Manchester Museum. We capitalised on this by using the subsequent project evaluation phase to further improve the content and design of the resource, guided by the practical experience made on the open day. As proof-of-concept we publish here the resource on the topic of cell migration together with the thoughts, rationale and strategies that have underpinned its development. We discuss the win-win situation this strategy provides for both students and researchers and how this approach can be further developed in the future, but also what grant-giving institutions can do to improve the status quo.
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