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Old Buckenham workshop by Mandy Hartley inspires next generation of scientists

The DNA workshop run by Mandy Hartley at Old Buckenham Village Hall. Picture: JONATHAN HARTLEY

The DNA workshop run by Mandy Hartley at Old Buckenham Village Hall. Picture: JONATHAN HARTLEY

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Young people learned about DNA at a free workshop designed to bring the wonders of science to children in a rural area.

The DNA workshop run by Mandy Hartley at Old Buckenham Village Hall. Picture: JONATHAN HARTLEY The DNA workshop run by Mandy Hartley at Old Buckenham Village Hall. Picture: JONATHAN HARTLEY

Mandy Hartley successfully applied for a grant from the British Science Association to run two workshops at Old Buckenham Village Hall, near Attleborough - one for children and a separate one for adults.

The goal was to spark youngsters’ interest in the subject and hopefully inspire them to become the boffins and detectives of the future.

Mrs Hartley - who runs the Little Storytelling Company, which gives science workshops to young people - said: “I was really lucky to get a Community Engagement Grant.

“The atmosphere at this event was incredible. There was a real thirst to want to know more.

The DNA workshop run by Mandy Hartley at Old Buckenham Village Hall. Picture: JONATHAN HARTLEY The DNA workshop run by Mandy Hartley at Old Buckenham Village Hall. Picture: JONATHAN HARTLEY

“Many of the parents from the session have been in touch or told me at the event that their children had told them they wanted to be a scientist. For me that is what it is all about - inspiring our next generation of scientists. It was music to my ears.

“Fingers crossed I can get a grant next year and do the whole thing again.”

Ahead of the workshops on Sunday, March 19, Mrs Hartley said part of her motivation was to get young people interested in science at an early age, before they go to secondary school.

“DNA is becoming more important to our generation,” she said.

The DNA workshop run by Mandy Hartley at Old Buckenham Village Hall. Picture: JONATHAN HARTLEY The DNA workshop run by Mandy Hartley at Old Buckenham Village Hall. Picture: JONATHAN HARTLEY

“Children are getting switched off with science once they reach secondary school-level.

“It is important to get them engaged in science early and show them the real-life applications.

“If you can teach them at primary-level and get them to understand the basics, it’s not such of a jump for them at secondary school.”

In Sunday’s 90-minute session, entitled Is My Grandfather a War Hero?, the young people looked into how real-life scientists would investigate someone’s past using forensics.

The DNA workshop run by Mandy Hartley at Old Buckenham Village Hall. Picture: JONATHAN HARTLEY The DNA workshop run by Mandy Hartley at Old Buckenham Village Hall. Picture: JONATHAN HARTLEY

They also got to see what DNA helix looks like – made of sweets.

Mrs Hartley also runs the sessions at schools and for home schoolers. For more information, email her on TLSTC@outlook.com

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