Project update  |   04 September 2023

Hosting students for a week of work experience

Group photo of students and staff outside the Plymouth Marine Laboratory building

One of the project activities for HyperBOOST is to engage local high schools and host a week of work experience for year 12 students (age 16). This was predominantly focused on promoting Earth Observation on biological oceanography as a career choice and to give students first-hand experience in a laboratory setting.

To ensure the promotion of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, the work experience was offered to a selection of local schools from varying social backgrounds. Gender diversity was also important to promote careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) for women.

Students worked in teams to learn what the daily work of marine scientist looks like in real life. The teams then worked on projects relating to satellite remote sensing, microplastics and mathematical modelling, which were presented to their peers at the end of the week.

Activities included: an interactive tour of the laboratory; a visit to the Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML) research vessel, Plymouth Quest; talks on marine science topics and career paths, and hands-on tasks, such as measuring changes in water colour for use in optical analysis.

Group of students in lab coats in the lab with PML scientists

Above: Students in the laboratory with HyperBOOST PI Dr Victor Martinez-Vicente and Dr Tom Jordan as they demonstrate the changes in optics using a sensor and a large container of seawater.

Exploring "Nexus Island"

There was also a fun activity where students played the "Nexus Island" game. This game-based teaching resource was developed by EMBL and inspired by the TRaversing European Coastlines (TREC) expedition.
It was an ideal opporunity for the students to interact with each other and explore the connections within ecosystems as they explored the four quadrants of the island.

Students play the NEXUS Island educational game in the laboratory

Dr Victor Martinez-Vicente, co-ordinator of the experience and HyperBOOST PI, commented:

“Sharing my passion about ocean science and being surprised by the insights from the students have made the work experience week one of the most enjoyable activities this year. I wanted to organise the work experience to give local young people the opportunity to know first-hand what it really means to be a marine scientist so that they can have a good picture before they make those important choices on their degrees the following year. I also wanted to give the opportunity to people working at PML to do something different in their day-to-day work and interact with students.”

“My reward was to hear that I might have helped inspired some of the participants to consider marine science as a career. It was great to see students passionately engaging to solve practical issues and working in teams to find creative solutions to unexpected problems. It took me by surprise how they quickly covered the equipment with their own lab coats when a sudden spell of rain risked on damaging the equipment, and also their resilience when the rain persisted and they did not give up. But then, I come from the south of Spain and I’m still not used to the British rain, even after 20 years!”

Student feedback

The week's work experience was an intitial pilot and due to its success aims to be repeated in 2024. You can read the positive feedback from the students below:

“Thank you so much for your guidance and kindness throughout this week. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with you and it’s people like you, in your line of work that really inspire me to pursue this.”

“Thanks for putting together an interesting and enjoyable week!”

“Thank you for the work experience, it was an incredible week and we loved it.”

“Thanks you for all your help and effort in arranging this experience for us. I’m very honoured to have been a part of this pilot and I hope future attendees will enjoy it as much as I have”


Related information

View more information about the "Nexus Island" game-based teaching resource and download the resources on the EMBL website