Embrace home learning with the CREST Awards

By Tabitha Jenkins

The Biochemical Society has teamed up with the British Science Association to create its very own CREST Awards resources. With country-wide school closures and home learning, there doesn’t seem like a better time for home-friendly self-learning!

The CREST Awards are designed to inspire STEM learning by engaging students in the practical side of science, both at school and at home. As a scientist, it is essential to understand that there is a practical side to science that requires one to roll their sleeves up and get stuck in. The CREST Awards are designed to use everyday resources readily available in the home to solve problematic scientific questions. Have you ever wondered how antibiotic resistance came about? Or how we could solve the problem of world hunger? Or even how we can utilise enzymes found in our day-to-day food for more than just eating? Well, the Biochemical Society’s CREST Awards resources give you the opportunity to do just that. These resources not only give the background to learn new topics but also help students to use their imagination to think up problems associated with these areas and come up with scientific solutions to them! A lot of the problems addressed in these CREST Awards resources are problems the world faces today. There is no better inspiration then feeling that research you do may make a difference to how people live – even if it is persuading your parents to change washing detergent!

The real-world problems addressed in these resources create challenges for school students that real life scientists face and solve every day. They are aimed at all ages with different levels of difficulty from year 5-7 at Star level to year 10-14 at Discovery level. Projects aimed at older students help them to run their own STEM projects as part of a team or individually. These projects can be submitted for awards and are great for enhancing UCAS applications.  You can learn more about the CREST Awards by following the link here to find out about the different projects and awards on offer.

The Biochemical Society resource guides cover topics in antibiotic resistance, saving the world with enzymes and feeding the world with biochemistry. These resources guide students through a set of criteria required to achieve the Gold CREST Award (16+ students) and help students to contribute something unique to the scientific community. These projects allow for experimental planning, design, execution and interpretation to give students an insight into life as a scientist. The biochemical projects cover both lab-based projects and bioinformatics-based projects aimed at everyone’s interests. Resources in solving the problem of antibiotic resistance covers projects looking at ‘good-bacteria’ known as probiotics, assessing natural antibiotics found in the kitchen and even designing and presenting a plan to the government to overcome a worldwide pandemic – rather relevant with today’s situation!

School taught science lessons are not always able to get across the process of scientific experimental research and the day-to-day life of a scientist. While knowing what problems there are is essential, scientists also need to be able to break down the problem and design an experiment to both get to the route of a problem or indeed solve it (or sometimes not). These projects allow school students to experience this step-by-step process to come to their own conclusions – not a ready-made conclusion from a long-ago solved experiment often given in a school curriculum. By looking at real-life every-day problems, students can learn to love science for what it is – a very current, challenging and ever-changing subject. Why should the next generation of scientists wait until University to get into experimental design! Links to the Biochemical Society’s CREST Awards resources can be found here for free.

About the author:

Tabi Jenkins completed her PhD thesis researching human helicase proteins in DNA repair at the University of Nottingham. She is currently working as a Postdoctoral Researcher at Birkbeck, University of London.

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