Heriot-Watt researchers bring Native Scientist to Edinburgh



Dr Ana Catarino and Rafael Pires, from the School of Life Sciences, and Catarina Novo, from the School of Engineering and Physical Sciences, have been enthusing children from the Portuguese School of Edinburgh, Lusofonias, about their scientific discoveries.

Native Scientist

The activity, coordinated by Dr Ana Catarino, a Marie-Curie postdoctoral fellow, comes under the umbrella of Native Scientist, a non-profit enterprise that fosters bilingualism through science outreach. The goal is to improve children’s multilingual skills, while inspiring a passion for science.

Ana brought together other Portuguese researchers from Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh University and the University of Glasgow at Portobello beach, for a playful seashore tour. Together with parents and kids, they collected hermit crabs and fish, and Ana explained some of the adaptations these animals have for their environment.

EnLightenment project

Catarina Novo and Rafael Pires, shared their enthusiasm and interest in immiscible and non-Newtonian liquids, bacteria and cells, with pupils, who were especially amazed by corn starch experiments. Rafael shared the EnLightenment project, a Heriot-Watt and Wellcome Trust educational initiative that aims to encourage girls and boys to discover the beauty of biology through the medium of physics. The presentation used a smartphone microscope kit, which allowed pupils to see into onion cells and insect wings using mobile phones – an activity which proved to be highly popular.

Native Scientist was launched in 2013 and is based in London. It aims to bring scientists to schools to talk about science to pupils for whom English is not their first language. Since 2013, they have reached over 600 pupils (in Portuguese, French, German and Spanish) and engaged with more than 40 expat scientists. Native is engaging with the Portuguese community in Edinburgh through Lusofonias, a project run by parents that provides Portuguese classes to their children. Dr Ana Catarino is currently Native’s ambassador in Scotland, as well as a volunteer communications officer.

More photos of the event can be seen at Native’s Facebook page.

For more information or to get involved, contact Ana Catarino or HW Engage – you can follow Ana on twitter @Zebrazuli