T.E.L.E.S.C.O.P.E. - One Day Exchange Event

Telescope eventSenior students from 2 schools in different locations learn about stem cells and discuss issues via video conference. Organised by outreach personnel from a university or research centre, T.E.L.E.S.C.O.P.E. is short for Trans-European Learning on Embryonic Stem Cells and debate Opinions on Policies in Europe. This event is based on an initiative created by ESTOOLS.

Details and instructions


  • Encourage students’ interest in science
  • Provide more information about stem cell research
  • Give students an opportunity to formulate, communicate and defend their opinions about complex ethical issues


Both partnering universities/research centres should recruit a school in their location where the same language is spoken with a similar level of proficiency, with same dates and windows of time available. Coordinating various time zones within the school day can make this tricky.  Contact should be made between the co-facilitators in various locales to ensure the timing and order of the day will be the same.  The time of the 2 hour, discussion based aspect should be agreed upon.

  1. Discuss the activity fully with the teacher; share/show the resources to be used; gauge prior knowledge.  Brief the recruited scientist, facilitators and all those involved on these findings.  Test the mega meeting or agreed web conference venue (eg Skype, Megameeting) in advance to be sure that there are no firewalls or blocks.
  2. Recruit a scientist who can discuss applications of stem cell research and known therapies for a 20 minute interactive session including Q & A.
  3. In an attempt to organise a panel discussion, contact ethicists, patient groups, religious representatives, clinicians to have a wide variety of stakeholder perspectives.  If only one of the above is available, have a 20 minute talk with a Q & A session.  If 2 or more are available, then have a panel discussion to react to the 'Conversation' film.  It has been noted that a patient would add to the impact of the event.
  4. Small group facilitators will be required for the debate/discussion aspect of the afternoon session, ideally 1 facilitator / 6-7 students.  If facilitators are available for the morning it would help get the discussions going. Facilitators should be well-acquainted with the resource materials and have experience working in a school setting with teenagers.  See 'Tips for Facilitators' for more information. 
  5. Lead facilitator will give introduction of the day, present the 'Introducing Stem Cells' lesson, run the 2 films, distribute and collect feedback forms/ run the hand held voting aspect, introduce scientist and panellists/ second speaker, take notes during the scientists talk and feed them to the panel or patient for discussion, administer the quiz, set up web conferencing equipment and make contact with the other school to plan the timescale (for example, 20 minutes for students to discuss, 10 minutes for the web conference), give the conclusion at the end of the day.  Assisting facilitators will be required for 2 hours, the last 4 segments in the chart below.

Event schedule and timings




10 minutes- Facilitator

Introduction of the day and schedule

Write the schedule for the day on the board if possible.

20-30 minutes- Facilitator

'Introducing Stem Cells' (ppt), end with pre-workshop feedback form/slides

Depending on prior knowledge, the presentation has several parts.  I would present up to slide 23, at least.  Distribute feedback forms/hand-held voting apparatus

25 minutes- DVD

'A Stem Cell Story' short film, give students the Quiz to complete while viewing the film, after the film go over Quick Quiz- use voting apparatus if it is available

laptop, projector, DVD, speakers, Quick Quiz Worksheet

20 minutes- Scientist

Talk on applications of the research and where it is at currently, Q & A session

Facilitator takes notes on some of the key issues raised and questions asked.  These will feed in to the panellists'/patient discussion.

25 minutes- DVD

'Conversations' short film

laptop, projector, DVD, speakers

20 minutes- Patient talk or panellists' discussion, introductions made by facilitator

Reaction to 'Conversations' film

This portion is entirely dependent on who is available- suggested representatives include patients, clinicians, religious reps, ethicists, biomedical lawyer. Facilitator sets up web camera and microphone.

15 minutes- Small group discussion and  recruited helpers circulate and help the groups

Students arranged in 4 groups for 10-15 minutes, each group assigns roles of chair, reporter and speaker.  Facilitators distribute the 4 packs, one per group.  Simultaneously in all groups, the chair reads instructions and speaker reads the scenario then all 4 views, group comments on all 4 views, reporter takes notes to share and summarise.

Arrange room so that one group can sit at the head of the room in a semi-circle of chairs.  The rest of the students are in small groups arranged to ease discussion. 

Recruited facilitators should circulate amongst the students and be prepped with this aspect of the day well in advance.  They should have access to the scenarios, tips for good facilitation strategies and be ready to prompt students with relevant questions and encourage discussion if students are quiet or reserved.  After small group work, with the exception of the group at the head of the room, all other chairs should arrange to face front- the screen and the head group of chairs. 

40 minutes

One group at a time goes to the head of the class and shares their scenario and findings with the class.  The class feeds back to the discussion; reporter continues to take notes

10 minutes per group: Groups will take the front seats to share their findings and ask for more input in to their discussion which will be shared on the web conference. 

50 minutes- web conference; lead facilitator takes the role of web conference organiser and liaises with partner school's organiser. Determine which scenario will be discussed first, etc in advance of first speaker.  Once the technology is up and running, the students lead this session.

One by one, the group speaker goes to the web camera and communicates on the web conference with the speaker from another school who addressed the same scenario on the cards.  This is projected on the screen so that the rest of the class can see and hear what is discussed.

10 minutes per scenario on the web conference with some time to change speakers.

10 minutes- Facilitator

Conclusion, thanks to all, post-event 4 question feedback

Collect completed forms, complete facilitator form

Sharing cards with instructions (pdf)739.96 KB Cards for discussion (pdf)852.36 KB Facilitator guide (pdf)264.73 KB Facilitator guide (doc)77 KB Curricular links for England (pdf)150.67 KB

ES ToolsThe original 2- day TELESCOPE activity was developed by ESTOOLS, the first EU project funded to research exclusively on human embryonic stem and induced pluripotent cells.Science Communication Unit and AimHigher West Yorkshirehelped produce some materials.The ESTOOLS toolkit with all original materials can be found at the project's TELESCOPE toolkit webpage. The TELESCOPE event webpage holds information about the five ESTOOLS events that linked up pairs of schools across Europe.

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