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Wellcome-MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute

Illustration of science themed market scene.

What would you become? is a new series of activities designed to guide curious young minds as they imagine what their future career paths could look like.

Produced by researchers with public engagement funding from the Wellcome-MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute, the first activity explores some of the  various roles that are vital for the day-to-day running of a research institute and considers the skills and interests often associated with them, with an overarching goal of breaking stereotypes which might be associated with working in STEM and at the University of Cambridge.

In 2021, Dr Nicola Wilson proposed this concept and was awarded a seed fund to begin development of the activity. The activities were co-created with the young people from Cambourne Cresent Islamic School and Monkfield Park Primary School as well as illustrator Tess Duffin

Using this as a platform to foster relationships with the local community and to learn first-hand how young people felt this resource could benefit them, a group of students from Cambourne Crescent Islamic School were invited to spend a morning at our Institute, visiting the labs and meeting researchers, technicians, bioinformaticians and the public engagement team. During a creative workshop, the young people were asked to brainstorm and illustrate what they remembered from the tour, the objects and people they had encountered and to consider what a day in a research institute looked like. This inactive lab visit allowed Tess, to use what the young people were inspired by and interested in to inspire the artwork for the activity.

Upon development of a prototype, a team of our researchers set about testing the activity with more young people from Cambourne Cresent Islamic School as well as Monkfield Park Primary School.

With several rounds of constructive criticism and insightful feedback from the young people, the first installment of “What would you become” challenges participants to think outside the box of stereotypes associated with STEM and use their skills and interests to create their own laboratory, where they can have whoever they imagine in their team and can be extraordinary in whatever interests them (insert example cards here).

You can download the activity to print at home and watch this space as we expand the range and delve into more exciting roles and careers all contributing to the running of a research institute!