LSTM and Everton in the Community launch Living Liverpool

News article 6 Jun 2023

LSTM is delighted to announce that Living Liverpool, a unique collaboration with Everton in the Community to celebrate LSTM’s 125th anniversary, has been launched at Holy Spirit Catholic Academy in Bootle.

LSTM is delighted to announce that Living Liverpool, a unique collaboration with Everton in the Community to celebrate LSTM’s 125th anniversary, has been launched at Holy Spirit Catholic Academy in Bootle.

LSTM’s Dr Adam Roberts, Reader in Antimicrobial Chemotherapy and Resistance, and the institute’s Public Engagement Manager, Dr Elli Wright, have worked with Everton in the Community to create a suite of educational materials consisting of a video and a workbook for primary and secondary schoolchildren across the city of Liverpool. The materials take the schoolchildren on a journey to understand what microbiology is, from the definitions of bacteria and antibiotics, right through to the global challenge of antimicrobial resistance in bacteria. In his video, Adam calls the students to become citizen scientists asking them to take part in his Living Liverpool project. Living Liverpool is an arm of his citizen science Swab and Send project which allows members of the public to join the hunt for the next antibiotic.

The identification of new antibiotics is of vital importance as the rise of infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria continues. Most of the antibiotics we use today come from bacteria and fungi that inhabit the soil. However, the next antibiotic might come from microbes that live in the back of people’s cupboard, bins, or the school classroom! Citizen scientists are given swabs to swab an area they think might be home to some interesting microbes, which are then tested by Adam and his team to determine if there are any bacteria present and if they are making any antibiotics.

Living Liverpool takes Swab and Send into schools across Liverpool, so Adam and his team can create a unique map of Liverpool’s microbiological profile. The launch of Living Liverpool saw Everton in the Community engage with 72 students at Holy Spirit Catholic Academy with students from Years 4, 5, and 6 taking part. The students were asked what they enjoyed most about science and whether they knew any famous scientists, with Albert Einstein and the father from The Powerpuff Girls television show coming out as the most cited! The students were then asked to swab a place in their classroom where they might expect to find the most bacteria, an activity which created a lot of excitement.

Mrs Parkinson, Year 4 Teacher said “This has been a fantastic hands-on experience for my class. Projects such as Living Liverpool bring science to life for the children, it really does show them the real-world applications of the science they learn in school.” A student in Year 4 continued: “I do enjoy science especially doing experiments, I have really enjoyed today.”

Students in Year 5 said: “It has been exciting to swab my classroom, we will get to see lots of different bacteria” and “I have learnt that bacteria are everywhere, and antibiotics don’t always work. I chose my area to swab because it looks dirty and doesn’t always get cleaned.”

Everton in the Community will return to Holy Spirit Catholic Academy in a few weeks, after Adam and his team have tested the swabs and determined what bacteria are present and whether they are producing any antibiotics.

Mick King, Sport Development and Education Manager at Everton in the Community, said: "We are delighted to have partnered with LSTM on such an innovative project and provide school children across Liverpool with the opportunity to play their part in helping to shape the future of medicine. We know from our long-standing education programmes that making learning hands on and fun for pupils helps to shape their appetite for future learning as well as providing them with an insight into possible future careers." 

Dr Elli Wright, Public Engagement Manager continued: “It has been a privilege to see all the hard work which went into creating the Living Liverpool video and workbook come to fruition and it being delivered at Holy Spirit Catholic Academy. The schoolchildren engaged with the content superbly, asking lots of questions and suggesting some interesting places to swab! I can’t wait to return to the school with the results.  Everton in the Community did a wonderful job at delivering LSTM’s science as evidence by the feedback from the students and teachers.”

Everton in the Community will be taking Living Liverpool to other schools within their network.