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CMFT researchers inspire the next generation of scientists at TeenTech event

Researchers, healthcare scientists, and representatives from Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (CMFT) have joined forces with other local organisations and businesses to inspire the next generation of innovators and engineers.

Representatives from CMFT hosted exhibition stands at the third annual TeenTech event at The University of Manchester's Sackville Street Building and Barnes Wallis Building on Wednesday 27th April.

More than 300 pupils aged between 12 and 13, from 30 schools across Greater Manchester and the North West attended the interactive showcase, to learn more about careers in science, engineering, and technology.

Niall Doherty, Clinical Trials Administrator at Manchester Vision Regeneration Lab at Manchester Royal Eye Hospital and the NIHR / Wellcome Trust Manchester Clinical Research Facility, went along on the day.

Pupils got to wear glasses that simulated different eye conditions which Niall and his colleagues are currently researching, including Diabetic Retinopathy, Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) and Dry Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD).

Students were given a brief overview of the Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System or 'bionic eye' and the two clinical trials (RP and AMD studies) in which this technology is being used.  They were then given the opportunity to try on a demonstration version of the glasses that 'bionic eye' patients wear, as well as seeing a brief video demonstrating how it works.

Niall said: "It has been great to see that students are thinking about their future and they've shown a keen interest in my role and the pioneering research being undertaken at CMFT."

Andrew Brown, Katie Ball and Richard Clark from the  EMERGING (Emergency and Intensive Care Research) Group at Manchester Royal Infirmary were also in attendance.

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They took along a range of interactive kit for students to get involved with including a defibrillator as part of basic life support and an intubated manikin; an I-Stat machine to test blood samples; thermoflash equipment to measure patient's temperature and a UV machine to highlight bacteria on the hands and skin.

Richard said: "As well as the students enjoying the interesting equipment we have brought with us today, it has also been really good to engage with them about medical research and the types of studies that we carry out. Pupils asked sensible questions and came up with some fantastic examples of why we do research including to improve patient care and develop healthcare for the future."

Pupils from Parrs Wood High School described the team's stands as "fascinating," "fun" and "engaging."

Head of  Clinical Photography and Medical Illustration Services at CMFT, Geraldine Thompson hosted an exhibition stand to demonstrate photographic techniques and scientific theory behind lens media in medicine.

The Healthcare Scientist STEM Ambassador of the Year (NHS England 2016) runner-up said: "The students I have spoken to throughout this event have been incredibly attentive and enthused by the whole TeenTech experience. I think it is a fantastic concept to inspire the younger generation and help them to make important life choices. It has also helped them to discover career options that they may not have known even existed before today. Many youngsters were intrigued by my medical illustration stand and wanted to know more about the detailed and quality imagery on display."

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Students from Priestnall School in Heaton Mersey commented that the Clinical Photography and Medical Illustration exhibit was "interesting" and "exciting to get involved with."

TeenTech founder, Maggie Philbin said: "The TeenTech event gives students and teachers the opportunity to try their hand at experiments; to handle leading-edge technology and, most importantly to spend time with the engineers, technologists and scientists influencing their 21st century lives.  It's a powerful intervention just before students make their subject choices, dispelling gender stereotypes and shifting perceptions of careers that teenagers may have considered difficult, geeky or boring."

CMFT staff have attended the Manchester event in previous years. In 2013, Senior Technologist in Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics, Atusa Sadegholnejat and her colleagues put on interactive activities for youngsters to have a go at surrounding their role in the Transplantation Laboratory.

In 2014, Senior Medical Physicist in Nuclear Medicine, Dr Heather Williams organised a stand exploring medical imaging, using specialist equipment and demonstrations.

About TeenTech:

TeenTech event days are large scale regional events bringing together students from 30/50 schools across a region and over 140 scientists, technologists and engineers for a day of challenges and experiments. We have measured the impact of events since 2008 and know there is a real shift in student perceptions, particularly amongst girls. Events run in 15 regions of the UK and the Republic of Ireland, each with its own regional steering group. The event day is just part of the initiative with schools working on projects both pre and post event.

Feedback from teachers and companies is overwhelmingly positive with 98.5% schools who attended a TeenTech event in 2014 saying they will definitely attend another. Follow on Twitter and Facebook.

History:

  • 2010 TeenTech awarded "Best Engineering Event" in Science and Engineering Week by British Science Association and Enterprising Britain Award for South East after being selected as the regional winner for 2010
  • 2011 TeenTech only UK recipients of a Google RISE Award to help pilot a UK rollout.
  • 2012 HRH Duke of York becomes patron of TeenTech
  • 2012 Maggie Philbin &TeenTech win UKRC/WISE Best Outreach and Communication
  • 2014 TeenTech receives a further Google RISE Award
  • 2014 TeenTech's Maggie Philbin invited to lead UK Digital Taskforce
  • 2014 First report published "Digital Skills for Tomorrow's World"