June 2018

UCB's Young Researchers Conference bigger and better than ever

Read time: approx 2 mins

Sixteen primary and secondary school students from across Birmingham were visiting fellows to UCB this week, presenting precocious university projects to lecturers, teachers and academics.

With subjects ranging from whether or not homework is useful, to wellbeing, to the human rights of children, pupils divided their poster projects into full academic investigations, each with research questions, context and rationale, methodology, findings and reflections.

The Young Researchers Conference, organised by UCB course leader for Professional Studies in Childhood Debbie Reel and Nicola Smith, lecturer at the University of Birmingham, has developed over time to provide increasing numbers of pupils between 6 and 15 years old a taster of what it’s like to study at university.

“Our annual Young Researchers Conference has grown from strength to strength since it was founded some years ago, and this year has been no exception,” said Debbie.

“We were delighted to host 16 schools in 2018, and were overwhelmed by the level of talented young researchers we have across our city, all engaging in real research to make changes within their schools.”  

Introduced by Professor Stephen Wordsworth, Dean of the School of Education, Health and Community at UCB, keynote speeches from Professor Peter Kraftl and Dr Sophie Hadfield-Hall of the University of Birmingham explored the nature of academic research and its benefits for children of almost any age.

In a departure from previous years, students worked for six months not on a presentation to be performed in McIntyre House’s Brendan Carroll lecture theatre, but instead on innovative group poster projects, complete with handouts and visual aids.

 “No matter what you go on to study, the topics you have covered today are key,” said Stephen in a speech to all attendees. “University is an opportunity to be independent, work hard and think differently about a subject you care about. That’s what you have all done today and something you can look forward to doing very well in the future.”

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