Busy year of public engagement starts with Big Bang

big_bang_13-NewsThe LMB is presenting a wide range of public engagement events and activities throughout 2013 to celebrate the move to its new building and the MRC Centenary.

Over a dozen scientists and staff from the LMB volunteered to take part in the first two days of the Big Bang show at ExCeL London (14-15 March). The event attracted tens of thousands of schoolchildren and teachers – many of whom visited the LMB’s special Virus Wars exhibit.

Public Engagement Manager Valerie McBurney comments: “Our Big Bang exhibit showcased work from Leo James’ group which is helping to improve our understanding of how the body fights virus infections.

“The event gave our volunteers a fantastic opportunity to experience a really busy event and to trial some of the Virus Wars activities and resources we are developing for the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition this July. We brought along a virus model with magnetic antibodies, and a range of video resources and it was great to see how the children engaged with the resources and with our volunteers to find out about the ‘virus wars’ going on inside their bodies.”

The London event was swiftly followed by two days of activity at the Cambridge Science Festival (16-17 March), which attracted yet more enthusiastic volunteers who helped to present two special activities based on the LMB’s popular Microscopes4Schools programme.

Children could take part in a ‘Guess Who’ game, using a stereomicroscope to look at different specimens – which they then had to match up with corresponding printed images. The second activity involved taking swabs of children’s buccal cheek cells, staining them with methylene blue and looking at them under a compound microscope – allowing the children to see their own cells.

Monica Brenni, who organised the Cambridge event comments: “The whole weekend was a huge success! Events like this are very beneficial, not only for the children but also for the volunteers.  The children get the rare opportunity to carry out hands-on activities helping to reinforce some of the concepts they have learned in school. At the same time, the volunteers learn the valuable skill of communicating their work to the public.”

References

Virus Wars web pages
Microscopes4Schools
Public engagement events and activities
Cambridge Science Festival
MRC Centenary website