Institute launches Technasium project with Dutch students to develop new animal facility technology

Institute launches Technasium project with Dutch students to develop new animal facility technology

The Babraham Institute is continuing to coordinate activities supporting its commitment as a signatory of the Concordat on Openness on Animal Research. Institute staff, including animal unit managers, have been working closely with a school in the Netherlands to prepare and launch the Institute’s contribution to the national ‘Technasium' education programme, which aims to draw together students and industry.

Two projects, developed in collaboration with the Institute’s Public Engagement team and teachers from the Sophianum School in Gulpen, will challenge students to research and design systems to improve the efficiency and safety of animal care systems. A third project will require the students to research how legislation regulating the use of animals in science, as well as public opinion, can vary throughout Europe and the world.

A two-day visit on 19th & 20th May will kick-start a 10-week programme for the 15-year old students, who will work in teams and compete to design the best solutions to the challenges. The Institute’s animal technicians will monitor student progress by commenting on YouTube videos posted fortnightly by the teams. Regular video calls into the animal unit and the Institute’s laboratories will allow live discussion between the students, the animal technicians and the scientists who use animals as part of their research.

The challenge projects will finish in July, with the winning Sophianum team coming to the Babraham Institute as part of their prize. The students will visit Institute animal facilities and will get a chance to see the award-winning camera system which displays live feeds from the facility - allowing groups to appreciate first-hand both the animal care environment and the nature of working within an animal research unit.

This pilot project will also involve sixth-form students at the school who will learn about the Institute’s research and take part in workshops to discuss the ethics of the use of animals in science. The Institute has been running ethics workshops for secondary and sixth form students since 2005, with contributions from Understanding Animal Research, the European Animal Research Association and the Institute of Animal Technology.

The success of the Technasium project will be evaluated by both the Institute and Sophianum School, with a view to developing future challenges.