In October, Stem Cell Revolutions travelled to Australia where it screened to over 450 high school students in Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney.
At each screening, students had the opportunity to have their questions about the stem cells and careers in science answered by Clare Blackburn, EuroStemCell's project coordinator and co-producer of the film, as well as a panel of local stem cell experts. Clare's visit to Australia, and the screenings of the film, were generously supported by the National Stem Cell Foundation of Australia as part of their commitment to educating the community about the potential of stem cell science.
The film set the scene by telling the history of stem cell research – from how stem cells were first revealed in the body, to the latest scientific and clinical developments. With beautiful drawings to illustrate how stem cells turn into the cells of the body and informative interviews with key scientists - including the 2012 Nobel Prize winners Shinya Yamanaka and John Gurdon, and Sir Ian Wilmut, creator of Dolly the sheep - the students were captivated by the possibilities of this exciting field.
Inspired by the film, the students surprised the panel - and many of their teachers - with their thought provoking questions. In a fascinating exchange after each screening, the students grilled the panel about how to control differentiation, the moral and ethical issues associated with using stem cells, and where the line between reality and science fiction lies – now and in the future. Scientists also shared careers tips and some fascinating insights on life in the lab.
One of the Melbourne teachers commented:
"Students were excited about the possibilities of the research and were able to imagine themselves in the shoes of the people on screen, doing the same great work. They were worried or curious about the implications of the discoveries and were pleased to have the scientists to talk to about it."
Like the students, we learned a lot from the experience. Clare Blackburn adds:
"The events were inspirational! After each screening students raised new and challenging questions, often reaching the very frontier of scientific understanding. It was also great to collaborate and see new ideas emerge as we worked alongside our Australian colleagues."
The series of Australian screenings was arranged by Stem Cells Australia.
If you haven't seen Stem Cell Revolutions yet you can watch it online or order a DVD here.