The University of Southampton

Hundreds of students experience LifeLab thanks to generosity of Rotary

Hundreds of students from Hampshire have had the opportunity to access the LifeLab project thanks to the generosity of the Rotary Club of the New Forest.

For the past five years the organisation has paid for secondary school pupils in the area to travel to the purpose-built laboratory and education space in Southampton where they are able to discover for themselves the science behind health messages.img_5765

The novel education project uses the science curriculum to enable young people to explore what impact lifestyle choices have on their own health, empowering them to make better choices themselves.

The LifeLab project is primarily aimed at secondary school students and their teachers who are given training in delivering the fully resourced module in school. The teaching culminates with a day at LifeLab, based at University Hospital Southampton, where students are able to carry out a series of experiments including extracting their own DNA, learning vital CPR skills and have the opportunity to meet inspiring scientists and learn about their research.

Thanks to funding by the Rotary Club of the New Forest that has paid for travel costs, an entire year group from Hounsdown School has been able to benefit from the LifeLab experience for the last few years.

The association with LifeLab began after members of the club decided to research how they could best help the young people in their local community. As part of his work with the Club’s communities committee, Rotary member Sam Turner contacted local GP surgeries and schools asking what issues they felt were important.

Members of the Rotary Club of the New Forest including Sam Turner (far right) on a visit to LifeLab where they met Professor Keith Godfrey (holding cheque)

Mr Turner explained: “The response we got indicted that the health of young people and dealing with the rising problem of obesity and encouraging healthier lifestyles was a real priority. So, with that in mind, we wanted to support a project that tackled those very things. When we heard about LifeLab and how we could enable students from the New Forest to access it, it really seemed a good partnership.”

Hounsdown science teacher Eloise Sneddon said the support from Rotary made the experience possible for the whole Year 9 cohort, totally up to 250 students each year.

She said: “Being able to come to a busy hospital and experience these sorts of facilities is really inspiring for the students. We are incredibly lucky to be able to offer this to every student in the year group and that is possible thanks to the support of Rotary.

“The students get so much out of their day here and it gives them an opportunity to really understand the messages around making good lifestyle choices through their own scientific discovery.”

Programme manager Dr Kathryn Woods-Townsend added: “Giving even more young people the chance to experience LifeLab is what the Rotary Club of the New Forest has made possible. Their wonderful partnership with Hounsdown school has meant that the entire year group has been given the opportunity to come here.”

Established in 2008, LifeLab is a joint project between the University of Southampton and University Hospital Southampton where it is based in a purpose-built education space linked to the National Institute for Health Research Southampton Biomedical Research Centre.

If you would like to know more about Lifelab and the opportunities we can offer, email