BUDDING scientists from South Lakeland are to be given a unique insight into how ground-breaking research is carried out.

From September, schools in the area will be able to send pupils to Britain’s first Life Science Centre in Grange-over-Sands.

The centre is the brainchild of research scientists Sarah Brockbank and Michelle Mobbs, who persuaded their former employer, the pharmaceutical giant Astra Zenica, to donate an entire research lab valued at £120,000 to the project.

With the help of funding from the North West Development Agency and the Department of Children, Schools and Families, the Miss Brockbank and Miss Mobbs were able to spend a further £17,000 moving the lab from its previous home in Cheshire and re-commissioning it at the Castle Head Field Centre in Grange.

Miss Brockbank, who hails from Staveley, said: “Between us, Michelle and I have spent 30 years as research scientists, developing medicines for the pharmaceutical industry, and we both realised it would be good to give something back by inspiring young people to take an interest in science.

“Fewer young people are opting for careers in areas such as science and engineering and that has created a shortage of this kind of expertise in Britain.

“One of the probelms is many schools are still in the 20th century when it comes to teaching science, using traditional equipment like bunsen burners and test tubes. We want to bring such teaching into the 21st century, making it more sexy so yount people learn to love the subject.

“Our aim is to generate an enthusiasm for science in young people and to inspire them to pursue of scientific careers.”

She said they would become engaged in vocational science projects such as DNA screening or making animal vaccines.

“It will be real science and a first for Britain. There is nothing else like it for research science anywhere in the country.”

The LIfe Science Centre was set up in conjunction with the Field Studies Council so the courses would be combined with outdoor adventure to stimulate and challenge the young people and provide opportunities to develop problem solving, team building and collaborative skills.

“At a time of recession, it is vital that young people see the very real opportunities that a career in science presents,” said Miss Brockbank. “The Life Science Centre is particularly focused on offering this new opportunity to people in Cumbria, as they are geographically isolated from other such initiatives.”

The centre will offer a series of free taster sessions in September and October for teachers to discover how it can help them deliver the curriculum in a real world context.

For more information visit www.thelifesciencecentre.org.uk.