27 April, 2022
The relaxing of COVID-19 restrictions allowed for elements of the festival to happen in-person so this year our contributions saw researchers engaging with people in both digital and physical spaces. We would like to say a huge thank you to all the staff involved for their hard work in making the following activities not only possible but also highly engaging to all audiences.
To coincide with the start of the festival, we launched an updated version of Virus Fighter! This update saw the addition of a new mission within the game that flipped the usual dynamic on its head. Rather than making choices in the game to combat the spread of a virus, this time you are learning about the factors that influence viral spread and putting that knowledge to work in designing a virus to combat an invasion of wombats to the UK! We had many people try out the new version online throughout the festival and 130 people meet some of the scientists behind the game at an in person event where they could get first hand advice on getting the best result in the game. You can read more about the development of this interactive viral outbreak simulator in a previous blog post and try it yourself by visiting the website.
Keeping with the immunology theme, a video reading of a children’s story about science was produced for the festival and has been viewed more than 100 times. The third book written by the Institute’s Prof. Liston, ‘Maya’s Marvellous Medicine’ is set in a doctor’s office just before the main character, Maya, receives a vaccination. Maya learns that vaccines are made up of bits of microbes that your body practices fighting, just like Maya practiced for her race at school. The doctor explains to Maya that dendritic cells present B and T cells with the clues that allow them to defeat the real microbes, even if that is years later. The story can be used by adults to discuss key scientific concepts with children, with the book available for free on Issuu and the video reading available here.
More than 40 people joined a virtual tour of our Biological Support Unit (BSU). This included members of the general public, students and teachers who all appreciated getting to see into the facility and hearing about the different career routes students can take to becoming an animal technician. Our virtual tours of our animal facilities are one way in which we uphold our commitment to the Concordat on Openness on Animal Research.
Over 170 groups jumped into our epigenetics escape room to take on the role of a visiting researcher trying to piece together results to publish a research paper! The puzzles in this activity were designed by staff and are all real problems faced in the lab on a daily basis. Several more of our scientists also star in videos giving a great sense of theming to the whole experience and giving people the chance to meet more of our teams. You can have a go yourself and see how quickly you can solve the puzzles by visiting the website.
27 April 2022
By Michael Norman