LMB scientists contribute to the Cambridge Festival with a livestreamed lab tour and a set of activities showing how studying worms can help us understand our brains
Scientists at the LMB have recently taken visitors on a virtual tour of our labs and shown children how worms can be used to help understand our brains as part of the inaugural Cambridge Festival, which brings together the Cambridge Science Festival and the Cambridge Festival of Ideas.
A tour of the “Nobel Prize Factory”
Although it was not possible to do hands-on, in-person events for the Festival this year, moving online created a great opportunity for LMB researchers to engage with people further afield. On Saturday 27th March we virtually opened our doors to far more people than we ordinarily do, as we hosted our first livestreamed virtual tour. A tour of the “Nobel Prize Factory” involved 12 LMB scientists based across the building taking viewers from around the world inside our labs and showcasing the wide variety of research done at the LMB, as well as testing the audience’s science knowledge with a fun interactive quiz and giving them the opportunity to ask us questions in a live Q&A.
Stops on the tour included visiting a Titan Krios electron microscope, seeing a live biophysics experiment in action, hearing how some of our researchers use fruit flies, and learning about some of the COVID research being done at the LMB. After a quiz run by a group of volunteers from the University of Cambridge Molecular Immunity Unit, live attendees asked lots of great questions to our volunteers, including “Are you afraid of working with SARS-CoV-2?”, “Is it difficult to be a scientist?”, and “What are the best things about working in the LMB?” In fact, we received so many questions that we had to continue answering them as comments under the video after the event!
As well as being a fun activity for live attendees on the day, we hope this video can provide young people interested in pursuing a career in scientific research with some insight into what it is like to work at the LMB.
Worms are cleverer than you think!
Denise Walker, a member of William Schafer’s group, led a team of five volunteers to adapt Worms are cleverer than you think!, an activity they had previously done in person, to be shared with children online. To do this, the team created a set of short videos associated with games and activities in which children could match videos of different worm mutants with their descriptions, play a sweet-finding game to learn about the importance of senses, and see how LMB scientists are using worms to study the sense of touch and the effects of ageing on our brains.
This set of activities provides a fantastic resource for future use as they can be used for virtual visits to primary schools and adapted for use with older students, allowing our researchers to reach children if travel and visits remain restricted, and making schools further from Cambridge more accessible.