Students from Walton High in Milton Keynes have been finding out that the sky is definitely not the limit when it comes to research at The Open University (OU). As part of their digital media production course, ten BTEC students visited the OU’s campus at Walton Hall to find out more about its work on Europe’s comet-chasing spacecraft, Rosetta – the world’s first mission to land on a comet. Working with scientists at the OU’s world-leading physical sciences department and the University of Kent, students produced short videos about the mission whilst developing their media skills in the process. They discovered what makes a great story whilst also learning how to script, choreograph and present pieces to camera.
The aim of the training sessions is to support students with the transition from school to university and/or work and get them interested in the social, economic and ethical impacts of university research. The videos produced contribute towards the students’ BTEC studies and to the application process for those looking to go to university. The videos will also be published on the web and shared with OU strategic partners and funding bodies.
Dr. Richard Holliman, the Open University’s Champion for Public Engagement with Research said: “Getting students to engage directly with world-leading research, such as the OU’s work on the Rosetta space mission, is a great way for them to speak directly to academics about the role research can play in our lives. It also gets students to think critically about how research is currently presented in a range of media, and to create their own accounts through short videos. The wider project provides a valuable opportunity for us to develop partnerships with schools across Milton Keynes and for the OU to engage with its local community, getting students interested in the exciting and varied research we do and offering them opportunities to contribute in ways that are valued by them.”
Manisha Meisuria, Media Production Teacher at Walton High: “The OU have provided our students with an invaluable experience in film-making. Working with industry professionals has allowed the students to understand the processes need to produce a professional standard of work. And the students have also learnt about an area of cutting-edge Open University research in the process.”
This project is part of a wider School-University Partnership Initiative called ‘Engaging opportunities’. Working with OU researchers and the Denbigh Teaching School Alliance across Milton Keynes the initiative aims to provide school students with opportunities to engage directly with research and researchers from different academic disciplines. Funded by Research Councils UK over three years, the OU is working with local schools to offer students opportunities to participate in mutual learning and develop relevant and useful skills and competencies in how to access, assess, analyse and respond to contemporary research.