12 November 2008
Launch of new classroom resources on clinical research to support UK science curricula
12th November 2008
Bottles of lemonade, a controversial Beatles song and holiday sun cream are being enlisted to help school children understand how new medicines are developed.
The ingredients are part of a new set of classroom resources for students and teachers on clinical research being launched by the UK Clinical Research Collaboration (UKCRC) today. They are designed to illustrate and help deliver some of the core aspects of the current science curricula in use across the UK.
The suite of resources includes an online patient journey which follows a person as they volunteer to take part in a clinical trial for a new medicine. The journey highlights the main stages of this process and allows students and teachers to find out about the roles and careers of the healthcare professionals the volunteer meets along the way.
Also included are a range of self-contained classroom activities covering subjects including: risk factors of disease; detection and diagnosis of disease; clinical trials; and development of new vaccines.
Materials on double blind trials use differently coloured lemonade to illustrate the placebo effect "“ both red and blue drinks are similarly sweet but when pupils sample them some will be convinced there are differences.
The Beatles track 'I am Tired' which allegedly contained a secret message about Paul McCartney's death when played backwards is used to show observer bias. Pupils are asked to note the words they hear on first listening, then again after the teacher has told them a secret message can be heard. If there are differences the class discusses why.
Sun cream and plain hand cream are used to illustrate the principles of double blind randomisation. The pupils do not know what cream is being applied to their hand until an ultraviolet light is turned on to show which has the active substance and which the placebo.
The resources have been developed by Centre of the Cell on behalf of the UKCRC. Centre of the Cell, based at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, is a science education centre, an online resource and an outreach project aimed at schools, young people and families. Its mission is to inspire curiosity and learning by connecting science to everyday life.
The Materials are designed to complement the science curriculum for 11"“16 year olds (key stages 3 and 4), but can be used as revision or extension activities with other key stages. They also address some of the key themes in other curricula including citizenship, history, biology and environmental studies.
The full press release can be found here.