Elephant bones and turtle skeletons make extraordinary science lesson

Intrepid youngsters from Beck Primary School in Sheffield explored elephant bones and camel skulls in an extraordinary workshop aiming to spark their interest in the wonderful world of science and medicine.

Dr Allie Gartland, Senior Lecturer at the University of Sheffield's Medical School, presented the inspiring Science of Bones Workshop with a team of lecturers, PhD students, post docs and technicians, to 90 Year 5 pupils.

During the stimulating session, youngsters visited four interactive work stations taking part in a variety of exciting experiments. The budding scientists gained an interesting insight into the importance of the skeleton and why we couldn't survive without one.

They pupils also explored the variation in size and shape of an array of bones from the skeleton of a sea turtle to kangaroo bones. The enormous structures captured the children's imagination and helped the science lesson come to life.

Dr Gartland said: "Through our workshop we aim to give the pupils a fun, hands on explanation behind why they need a good healthy diet. Children know that they need calcium for their bones – and in this workshop we have shown them why and exactly what happens to bones when they are lacking in calcium.

"We explain to them about osteoporosis, or brittle bone disease, which is often thought of as an old person's disease and something to worry about later in life – but more and more young people are suffering with this terrible disease."

Dr Gartland has taken her fascinating workshop to a number of schools in the Sheffield region including Southey Green Primary School. Throughout the sessions youngsters learn how to keep their bones healthy and strong through a well balanced and nutritional diet and exercise.

The workshop is part of the STEM Ambassador scheme and the University of Sheffield's commitment to outreach and widening participation activities.

"By showing the pupils how our skeleton works and how important it is to build strong, big bones when they are young, we hope they will be encouraged to eat a healthy balanced diet and take part in some bone-building exercise," added Dr Gartland.

"We also hope to inspire these children that they are the scientists and doctors of the future."

Notes for Editors: With nearly 25,000 students from 125 countries, the University of Sheffield is one of the UK's leading and largest universities. A member of the Russell Group, it has a reputation for world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines.

The University of Sheffield has been named University of the Year in the Times Higher Education Awards for its exceptional performance in research, teaching, access and business performance. In addition, the University has won four Queen's Anniversary Prizes (1998, 2000, 2002, 2007). These prestigious awards recognise outstanding contributions by universities and colleges to the United Kingdom's intellectual, economic, cultural and social life. Sheffield also boasts five Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and many of its alumni have gone on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence around the world.

The University's research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls Royce, Unilever, Boots, AstraZeneca, GSK, ICI, Slazenger, and many more household names, as well as UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.

The University has well-established partnerships with a number of universities and major corporations, both in the UK and abroad. Its partnership with Leeds and York Universities in the White Rose Consortium has a combined research power greater than that of either Oxford or Cambridge.

For further information please contact: Amy Pullan, Media Officer, on 0114 222 9859 or email a.l.pullan@sheffield.ac.uk