Unearthing new learning opportunities: adapting and innovating through the 'Antibiotics Under Our Feet' citizen science project in Scotland during COVID-19

Rebecca Mary Cornwell, K. S. Ross, Caius Gibeily, Isobel Guthrie, Laurence Taylor Seeley, Yaxuan Kong, Ava True, Arun Barnes, Emma Nimmo, Gloriya Len, Ioana Oprea, Boyang Lin, Aswin Sasi, Vicky Chu, Chloe Davidson, Daniil Ulasavets, Grace Renouf-Bilanski, Maria Dmitrieva, Yana Leung, Ziying YeSasha Brown, Meghna Vaidya, Jenna Hynes, Catherine Mullner, Priyansha Agarwal, Charlotte Thorley, Clarissa Melo Czekster*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


“Antibiotics under our feet” is a Scottish citizen science project that aimed to raise science capital in primary school learners and their teachers through measurement of microbial diversity in urban soil samples in the search for novel antimicrobial compounds. Resistance to antibiotics is rising, posing a global threat to human health. Furthermore, Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) skills are in crisis, jeopardising our capacity to mobilise as a society to fight antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Originally conceived as a response to the AMR and STEM emergencies, our project was hit by the unprecedented challenge of engaging with schools during the COVID-19 pandemic. We describe how we adapted our project to enable remote participation from primary schools and youth groups, utilising COVID-19 response initiatives as opportunities for multi-level co-creation of resources with learners in primary, secondary, and higher education. We produced portable kit boxes for soil sample collection with learning activities and videos linked to the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence.We also addressed glaring project specific content gaps relating to microbiology on English and Simple English Wikipedia. Our hybrid model of working extended our geographical reach and broadened inclusion. We present here the inception, implementation, digital resource outputs, and evaluation of pedagogical aspects of “Antibiotics under our feet”. Our strategies and insights are applicable post-pandemic for educators to develop STEM skills using soil, microbes, and antibiotics as a theme.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAccess Microbiology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 7 Mar 2024


  • School outreach
  • Antibiotics
  • Citizen science
  • Public engagement
  • Microbiology


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