Emily Pentreath

I study Biomedical Science and in my first year of Uni volunteered with St John's Ambulance (LINKS), Sheffield Cats Shelter and was the Project Leader of ‘BMS Science Club’. Going into my second year, I am now the Social Secretary for LINKS and Volunteering Officer for BMS Soc!

I've always loved working with children and have done many activities like these in the past at school and in my spare time through the youth organisation The Woodcraft Folk' (we don't craft wood!) - so it felt natural to me to carry on volunteering when I came to university.

When the opportunity to volunteer with BMS Soc came up in my first semester I signed up immediately (possibly too quickly!) as I really wanted to get involved in the local community and meet new people in different years who were also studying Biomed.

I was keen to help the young children become more interested in science and hopefully inspire them to realise that it is not another 'boring' thing they do at school; but that it can be incredibly interesting and fun. I was especially keen to get some of the girls in the club more involved, and maybe even help them start thinking of a possible future in science orthe other STEM subjects. It was hugely gratifying to hear some of them say that they wanted to be like us and study science at university some day!

In the club we did a wide range of activities over the weekly sessions. From human anatomy lifesize cut-outs and DNA extraction from kiwis and strawberries, to exploring the properties and making their own non-Newtonian fluids and using UV lights to write secret glow-in-the-dark messages; we always had a key focus on getting the kids actively involved and helping them to try and come up with their own experiments to do with us, or at home.

Wherever possible, we tried to plan activities using ‘everyday’ materials and substances in the hope that they would realise science isn’t just confined to the classroom, as so many of them initially thought it was!

When I was asked if I wanted to take over as Project Leader in my second semester, I was very excited but quite nervous. Not just because it meant I would have to write risk assessments and look after the finances, but also because it was likely that most of the other volunteers I needed to recruit would be older than me - which is pretty daunting as a first year!

As it turned out, I had no reason to worry! The group of volunteers soon became a group of friends, and I now feel like a real part of the BMS ‘family’ we have going on in the Society!

It was because of my amazing experiences with Science Club and the support from the Volunteering Office that I decided to run for Volunteering Officer at the end of my first year. I feel that I have really developed my ability to run and organise a team based project, and now have an even better understanding of how to teach science to children. I would honestly say that Science Club was one of the most rewarding and enjoyable parts of my first year of uni, and I can’t wait to carry it on this year!