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Discover what makes your heart tick from scientists at the Babraham Institute - everyone knows calcium is needed for healthy teeth and bones, but did you know calcium is also vital inside cells to regulate heart contractions? Understanding these processes, illustrated by Interactive touch-screens, could provide clues for developing new drugs to prevent heart problems.
Our exhibit explains how cells communicate with each other using chemical messages to translate events occurring outside the cell into a response, which may provide insights into the processes governing healthy ageing. Calcium ions are important chemical messengers affecting many cell processes including muscle contraction, fertilisation and neural activity. Problems with calcium levels in the body underlie numerous health problems including high blood pressure, heart failure, cancer and bipolar disorders. Researchers are studying how calcium levels affect cardiovascular cells and how it can negatively impact on heart rhythm and the genes controlling heart size. Visitors to the exhibit were shown how calcium signals govern different cellular processes like heart contraction. Participants also learned about the variation of animal heart rates and were shown, by videos, innovative techniques that are used by researchers to see how molecules move throughout the body and how they respond to other chemicals and processes in their environment.
“Totally engaged my children, when as a parent it is often difficult to do. When relaxing it is difficult to be didactic. Children were absorbed, asked questions, flipped through the exhibits, filled in a comparative quiz whilst being supported. Very rarely will my children put pen to paper outside school. Very rarely do they stay long at exhibits. Utterly absorbing. To meet scientists and have a proper conversation was inspiring for the children. Well Done!”
“Thank you very much – kids love it. What you are doing is so important, getting kids excited and inspired about science” – grandparent
“Amazing staff. Fantastic , the best stand at the event.” - Isabella’s mother
Summer of Science event at the Southbank June/July 2010 - Just to thank and congratulate your staff and all those in other organisations involved with the superb science event at the Southbank Centre. My two 8 year boys have never been so enthralled by an exhibition and engaged by the guides as they were when we visited last Sunday, 27th. It seems almost unfair to mention any one particular guide, because they were all so great at communicating with the children, but Dr Claire Cockroft was in particular patient and clear in her explanation of the research on calcium in the blood and the impact on the heart. The venue is perfect too for this event. Please repeat next summer!
The Royal Society
Calcium Signalling Teacher Tools
The Virtual Heart
Dr Claire Cockcroft
Head, External Relations
Contact by email
Babraham Institute - Babraham Research Campus - Cambridge - United Kingdom