Collaboration between researchers and educators enables an authentic and engaging learning experience


  • Klementine J. Burrell-Sander School of Chemistry, The University of Sydney, Sydney NSW 2006, Australia
  • Kymberley R. Scroggie School of Chemistry; Drug Discovery Initiative; The University of Sydney, Sydney NSW 2006, Australia
  • Peter J. Rutledge School of Chemistry, The University of Sydney, Sydney NSW 2006, Australia
  • Alice E. Motion School of Chemistry, The University of Sydney, Sydney NSW 2006, Australia


authentic learning experiences, co-creation, citizen science


The use of authentic learning experiences and real-world problem solving is an effective means to increase student engagement with course content. Providing broader context of the application of chemistry can aid students in relating abstract chemical concepts to their own experiences of the world, and improve students’ willingness to learn and understand deeper concepts (King, 2012). In addition, there is increasing evidence that engaging in citizen science projects, wherein students work with peers and researchers towards a common goal, is a powerful motivator for students (Vitone et al., 2016). 

The Breaking Good project is an ongoing citizen science program in which high school and undergraduate students work cooperatively with researchers to synthesise novel drug candidates that are screened against various neglected tropical diseases. We will discuss our experiences implementing this synthetic workshop program in both schools and universities and explore how different educational settings require and enable different levels of immersion and styles of learning. In particular, we examine the balance between providing authentic and immersive experiences while maintaining close alignment with learning outcomes. We suggest that co-creation between educators and researchers facilitates a more cohesive and enriching experience for students.


King, D. (2012) New perspectives on context-based chemistry education: using a dialectical sociocultural approach to view teaching and learning. Studies in Science Education, 48(1), 51-87

Vitone, T., Stofer, K., Steininger, M. S., Hulcr, J., Dunn, R. and Lucky, A. (2016). School of Ants goes to college: integrating citizen science into the general education classroom increases engagement with science. Journal of Science Communication, 15(01), A03