Martin has a fantastic internship experience with the SAW Trust

Martin has a fantastic internship experience with the SAW Trust

Martin Schafer hoped to gain an insight into outreach activities and experience working with children in schools so he used his 12 week PIPS placement with the Science, Art and Writing (SAW) Trust as an opportunity to do this. Martin, a JIC student researching genetically engineered novel antibiotics, undertook his internship from April to July 2015 and found the experience extremely rewarding.

SAW projects are designed to show children the connections between science, art and writing. The major project of Martin’s internship was Lunchbox Science, a new collaboration project between the SAW Trust and FACE (farming and countryside education), to show children the connections between science and farming. The main objectives were preparation and coordination of projects, school days, and participation at the Royal Norfolk Show in Norwich. In addition, Martin was involved in the preparation of public displays for OpenPlant at the Festival of Plants Day in the Botanic Garden in Cambridge and the Fascination of Plants Day at the John Innes Centre in Norwich. “We had very positive feedbacks for all projects and several requests to repeat and continue Lunchbox Science.” Martin reflects.

Martin’s duties included administration and coordination of the participating schools, scientists, artists, and writers. Martin also learnt how to use Adobe Illustrator in order to design professional illustrations as well as specific preparations of print-ready artwork for external printing. He designed his own logo, advertisement materials, and certificates. Martin produced public displays of outcomes from several project days as well as developing a detailed lesson plan for teachers.

The internship exceeded Martin’s expectation, as he says “I gained more insights and skills than I anticipated”. One of Martin’s goals was to gain more confidence in speaking to the public and he also wanted to learn how to manage projects.  Highlights include coming into contact with scientists in various fields that were new to him, broadening his knowledge in different areas of science, learning useful techniques for creative writing and new art techniques that had various connections to science. He also gained insights into managing and coordinating projects in changing environments, which was sometimes very challenging and required versatility and flexibility.On reflection of the benefits of his internship, Martin says “I have gained a whole set of transferable skills that are beneficial for my personal career development. I had multiple chances to extensively practice communication, motivation, creativity, and flexibility”. He lists other benefits as including an increase in self-confidence, good time management and experience of managing budgets. “The whole internship was a fantastic experience to engage with the public and to learn a broad range of skills”.

Martin has some useful advice for those yet to go on their internship, saying “It is very useful to prepare a list of things to remember when you start back in the laboratory because the three months internship is an eventful time”.