“I want to continue working throughout my life to promote science regardless of what I do or where I end up. I want children from all walks of life to have every opportunity to study whatever they want and not be restricted by the area they live in, the school they go to or the materials they are exposed to.”

This is the level of passion Rosannah Jackson, a 21 year old Anatomy student, brings to most things. Yet she reserves a certain heightened enthusiasm for anything within the field of medicine or science. While in her second year of high school one of her teachers brought in a pig heart and kidney and dissected it in front of the class.

“It wasn’t in the curriculum and she didn’t have to do it but she used her own money and dedicated her own time.” Rosannah was captivated and the course of her life had, in many ways, now been laid out in front of her. “This was almost 10 years ago and I remember it like it was yesterday.”

In late 2014 Rosannah become a member of STEMNET’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) Ambassador Programme through Science Connects, viewing this as an opportunity to meaningfully contribute towards the education of young people. Soon after she was asked by the Principal of Biology if she would like to take part in a science outreach programme and Rosannah, being Rosannah, jumped at the chance.

Setting up a STEM Club within her field of expertise – anatomy – at Boclair Academy she strived to stay true to two main objectives: attempting to give her students the same direct experience of learning she observed as a student and to make it relevant to young people, many of whom would be coming to anatomy and human science for the first time:

“I decided to pick the organ systems because it’s easy for people with little or no knowledge of the human body to envisage as we all eat, breathe and go to the toilet! So I had the pupils all searching for their pulses and finding their funny bones, which was great fun!”

So much fun was had in fact that one of Rosannah’s pupils, Rahul Kumar from 1D, wrote a letter thanking her and stating how much he had enjoyed the class and the opportunity to study anatomy in so much detail. Most pleasing was how much of the STEM Club content he retained:

“…Miss Jackson taught us lots about the human body. Being able to dissect these organs allowed us to understand our own bodies better. We learned about 12 different systems including the Skeletal System, Muscular System, Cardiovascular System, Digestive System, Endocrine System, and Nervous System… we are all really grateful to Miss Jackson for giving up her time to help us learn about the human body and giving us the opportunity to carry out dissections and experiments we would never normally do in S1.”

Reluctant to leave out any detail about his experience Rahul was not too proud to admit that at one stage the heart dissection got a bit too much for him causing him to faint. Yet he returned the next week with what Rosannah calls “unparalleled and commendable enthusiasm”. Showing that dedication trumps nausea and though learning about the human body is a fascinating topic and an educational experience slicing and dicing animal organs is perhaps not for all.

Rosannah maintains that learning these topics first hand gives young people an unparalleled insight into how the human body works and Rahul echoed this sentiment by stating that he now understands much more about human diseases and how we treat them. As Rosannah claims, this illustrates just why the STEM Ambassador programme and STEM clubs are so important:

“…even if at the time it’s just a bit of fun and something different when the time comes to make decisions about further study these learning experiences stay with us and become a possibility. Everything seems much more feasible if you know a little bit about it.”

Just as her impact on these young students is wide reaching and impressive Rosannah herself now plans to take on a medical degree with the aim of becoming a doctor. Her approach towards hard work, her dedication as a STEM Ambassador and an uncanny ability to relate to young people will undoubtedly ensure that she reaches her goal. As Aristotle said, “Where your talents and the needs of the world cross, there lies your vocation.”

Science Connects co-ordinates the STEM Ambassador Programme and School Advisory Network Service in the West of Scotland, offering teachers information on STEM related activities from a wide range of STEM Providers, identifying opportunities appropriate for each school’s needs. STEM Ambassadors are volunteers from academia and industry, from a variety of STEM disciplines, who can provide career talks, practical help and real life links relevant to Curriculum for Excellence.

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