Sharing science with school students for the MRC Festival of Medical Research

Students from Long Road 6th Form College with A Recipe for Primordial Life
Students from Long Road 6th Form College with A Recipe for Primordial Life

LMB researchers have taken part in this year’s MRC Festival of Medical Research by hosting visits from local school students, contributing to a primary school science day, and participating in the MRC Festival Zone of “I’m a scientist, get me out of here!”. The MRC Festival of Medical Research is held annually in June as an opportunity for MRC-funded units, centres, and institutes to showcase and discuss their work through events and activities around the UK. The Festival aims to raise awareness and understanding of the benefits of medical research to society and build trust in medical research.

A Recipe for Primordial Life

On the first day of the Festival, the LMB invited students from Long Road and Hills Road 6th Form Colleges and families from a local home education group to have a sneak preview of the exhibit A Recipe for Primordial Life that LMB researchers will be taking to the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition from 1st to 7th July 2019. Their visit also included a tour of the building, with particular stops in the Sutherland and Holliger labs, whose research is described by the exhibit.

The exhibit includes three activities in which the students were able to explore the volcanic landscape of the early Earth to find where the fundamental basic molecules that allowed life to emerge were formed, discover the environments in which these basic molecules reacted together to form the building blocks of life, and delve into the primordial soup to investigate how different building blocks might have combined in the first cells.

Your first chance to see this exhibit in action will be at the Royal Society from 1st to 7th July as part of their Summer Science Exhibition.

Bottisham Primary Super Science Day

LMB researchers took part in Bottisham Primary School’s Super Science Day, bringing the Synthetic Biology: Create a New Protein! activity to approximately 120 children aged between 7 and 11. Children from the whole school went through a range of different science-based activities throughout the day. LMB scientists talked to the children about the importance of having protein in our diet and what proteins can do in our body. Children then got the chance to make a new model protein using modelling clay, concepts from synthetic biology, and their imagination! The children were then encouraged to think about what their protein might do and presented their creation to the rest of the class.

I’m a scientist, get me out of here!

Twenty-five scientists and support staff from across the MRC took part in the MRC Festival Zone of “I’m a scientist, get me out of here!”, with three representatives from the LMB this year: Nina Rzechorzek, Ross Hill, and Lorena Boquete Vilarino. This online public engagement event involves the scientists talking with school students all over the UK and answering any questions they have about their research, wider interests, or whatever they want to know!

Students have voted for their favourite researcher in each of the first three weeks of the event and are now voting for one to win £500 to spend on further public engagement! Nina Rzechorzek, a postdoc in John O’Neill’s group in the LMB’s Cell Biology Division, was voted the weekly winner in the third week of the competition and commented, “These students are totally fearless in challenging established ideas. The next generation is smart, globally conscious, and full of ambition – that’s hugely exciting for science.” We wish Nina, Ross and Lorena the best of luck in this final week of the competition!

Further references

A Recipe for Primordial Life
Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition
I’m a scientist get me out of here! MRC Festival Zone