ICYMI: Racing Against the Clock at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition 2018
After 7 months of preparation it was finally time for the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition (RSSSE) 2018! As with every event involving so many factors there were a million and one things still to consider: would the trains run on time so the team would be there? Where should we put the exhibit brochures so visitors can see them? Would the sandwiches be ready at lunch breaks?
The Saturday before the RSSSE started I travelled down to London to coordinate the build of the Race Against the Ageing Clock exhibit. To me that was a very special moment as for the first time I saw everything together in one place. It looked amazing and I got excited thinking about what it would look like at opening time on Monday, manned by Institute researchers and surrounded by interested members of the public.
The RSSE runs for 7 days, meaning hundreds of conversations about epigenetics, stem cell reprogramming, the Epigenetic Ageing Clock and C. elegans worms as model organisms. We had 50 Institute researchers at all career levels discussing these concepts during the course of the exhibition, as well as their own research projects with a really varied audience, from 3 to 83 and from all walks of life. I had interesting conversations about the ethics of ageing and whether it is really desirable to live for longer and was amazed by how many students already knew so much about epigenetics and stem cells. One of my favourite things was the look on people’s faces when they weren’t too sure if they wanted to have a look at live worms. However, that quickly changed to interest and questions once they saw them through the microscope.
The Royal Society is located in a stunning historic building in central London, and being in such environment makes you feel more connected to the amazing history and scientists affiliated to the Royal Society. There were two evenings where fellows of the Royal Society were invited and as one of the researchers commented “we are repeating hundreds years of history by having discussions with fellows of the Royal Society about our ground-breaking research!”.
We received over 120 written comments on our feedback wall, with many people expressing how educational the exhibit was, thanking us for promoting such interesting conversations, and complimenting the researchers on their passion for talking about their work.
If you weren’t able to get to the Race Against the Ageing Clock during the Exhibition but are interested in learning more about the science, have a look at the new Summer Science Exhibition Extra – an online opportunity to find out more.
I am very grateful to have worked with such an amazing team of researchers in the creation and delivery of this exhibit at the RSSSE. It’s now time for the after-party (and evaluation) and we have plans to take the Race Against the Ageing Clock exhibit to other festivals in the upcoming months. Keep an eye on the Babraham Institute’s event page to see where the exhibit will pop up next.