The Bioengineering Experience is in its third year

Children from state and independent schools took  part in real research activities at the Institute of Bioengineering, School of Engineering and Materials Science.


Year 6 children from St Joseph’s in the Park, Albury and Wheatcroft Primary School took part in bioengineering research at the School of Engineering and Materials Science, Queen Mary University of London.


Year 6 children learnt about the knee joint and why mechanical forces were important in helping the cartilage tissues grow and stay healthy.

The children watched Dr Reshma Tilwani dissect cartilage from a bovine knee joint. The children learn why the cells called chondrocytes like to be squashed (compressed or exercise) to keep them healthy and stay alive.

The children stretched fetal membranes and examined why stretch is important in keeping the cells which protect the baby as she grows inside the mother’s womb healthy.

The children stretch a fetal membrane and realise this tissue is very, VERY stretchy! David Barrett is leading the activity and has been investigating what factors make fetal membranes stretch or become weak.


I show examples of biomaterials that are used to fill holes in cartilage and dental defects. The children made a biomaterial out of sugar. Depending on how soft or hard they are, the biomaterial looks like pink balls or beans.


James Taylor helps the children to make biomaterials that are being used to treat cartilage diseases such as osteoarthritis. James is investigating ways to build 3D structures for tissue engineering cartilage and tracheal defects in babies with fetal stem cells.


Mrs Jane Elson is Head of Science at St Joseph’s in the Park. She has taken part in the bioengineering experience for three years and been involved in several STEM activities at QMUL. Thank you Jane for your support!


Marta is stretching a tendon fasicle. She is investigating ways to prevent inflammation in the tendon.


Have you ever wondered what makes sugar so strong?


The children work with the IOB scientists in our new state of the art engineering and materials facilities worth £38, 000, 000.


There was enough time for lots of questions…..why is cartilage like a sponge?


The best things about the bioengineering experience…

  • “Meeting the scientists work in real life”
  • “Crushing the cartilage”
  • “Going to a lab”
  • “I got to see new things”
  • “Fun, interesting, gross!”
  • “We got to make materials to replace cartilage”

Quotes from the children:


“Your speech, combined with the stations at Queen Mary, has lit a fire of inspiration inside me. In ten years, I could be creating the next technology for bioengineering. Who knows? I know.

I know that in ten years, I will be engineering the machines responsible for growing cells.

I learnt that cells require that they be in similar conditions to where they are going to be. the cells will be stretched and squeezed by the machines”.  Callum Scott, Whetcroft Primary School, Hertfordshire.

“It felt like an honour to be invited to Queen Mary University of London. The doctors, biologists and engineers, whose talks were inspiriring and engaging, carried out some phenominal experiments that may be I would like to try one day. Queen May was a trip I will never forget, even if i tried (although of course, I never will).” Jasmine, Whetcroft Primary School, Hertfordshire.

“My favourite part was when the scientists cut open the cows foot. I found it interesting and I learnt lots. I also enjoyed your talk at St Joseph’s in the Park. It made me think that I could be a scientist if I wanted to  as you explained that when you were younger, you did not even know what a bioengineer was – you really inpsired me.” Sophie Appleyard, Whetcroft Primary School, Hertfordshire.

“After we were invited to St Joseph’s in the Park to attend the science event, I loved all the speeches that the scientists produced. However, your one was the best. If I were to go on this trip again, I wouldn’t change anything.” Connor Allen, Whetcroft Primary School, Hertfordshire.

Enormous thanks to all the children for taking part in the bioengineering experience.

And huge thanks to the children from Wheatcroft Primary School for taking part for the very first time. I really enjoyed your thank you letters – it has been a pleasure to work with you.

See you next year !