During the road show, the high school students were invited to
participate in simple but fun experiments.
"Students frequently have very little practical science
experience; there is little substitute for actually having a go
yourself," said Dr Matthew Perry, the centre's academic director
and part of the team on the roads how.
"I ran three different practicals, to give students hands-on
experience in chemistry, biology and physics," he explained. "The
chemistry practical looked at the different coloured dyes used in
the manufacture of the chocolate sweet Smarties; for the biology
practical, we isolated the DNA from a kiwi fruit; and for physics,
we launched some rockets. The students were able to have a go at
practical and fun science projects, while learning a bit about
chromatography, molecular biology and Newton's third law of
Planning for the road show experiments had to take in some very
practical considerations however, said Matthew. "It really was
'science in a suitcase'. The practicals had to use a minimum of
technical equipment and needed to be 100% reliable. It takes a lot
of preparation and testing to set-up demos like this, as we had to
assume the schools would have no specialist facilities.
"We also had to factor in what materials we could safely
transport across international borders or by air - my foreign
language skills are not up to explaining to an inquisitive customs
officer why I'm carrying rocket components, even if they are
intended for entirely peaceful activities!"
Degrees in courses such as forensic and investigative chemistry,
pharmacy, plant science and environmental geophysics can lead on to
careers in the healthcare sector, pharmaceutical industry and
environmental and food agencies, all of which are important growth
areas in Vietnam.
Mike Gavin, the centre's international sales and marketing
manger, who also ran the road show, explained, "Science in
countries such as Vietnam is regarded very highly and seen as being
a long term benefit to the country as it grows and develops its
economy. Food safety for example is seen more and more as a concern
as their population grows and migrates to the cities, and UEA is
seen as an important centre for this type of research."
He added, "The reception we received from the schools was
excellent and, while the overall impact remains to be seen,
students I spoke to later in the week that hadn't been at the
demonstrations were talking about the road show and their interest
in INTO UEA.
"It is the start of a process of trying to attract the best
students from some of the best schools over a long period, the fact
that we have been invited back by the school principals of the
schools we visited bodes well.
"Ultimately, the quality of the students coming to the centre,
and the quality of our courses, will have a direct impact on the
quality of students undertaking the University's science