Magnificent Microbes saw the whole department of Molecular Microbiology working together to spread the message to the public of the uses and importance of microorganisms. Postgraduate students, postdoctoral and senior researchers from MMB came together to produce a series of linked experiments and stands to interact with school pupils and the public at Dundee Science Centre.
Professor Geoff Gadd used food to lure the interest of passers by by showing them just how many foods and drinks we consume are dependent upon bacteria. "You'd be amazed by how broad the range is," he says, in between bites of a white bread roll. "Bread, for instance, is made using a fungus,specifically yeast. As are wine and beer. Then there are other ones you wouldn't immediately think of that use fungal products, such as coke, cornflakes,cured sausages, chocolate and coffee. Bacteria are used to make vinegar and pickles, as well as yoghurt. Cheese relies on fungi, in fact the veins in blue cheese are made by a type of penicillin fungus."
The project was the brainchild of Dr Nicola Stanley Wall, who coordinated and motivated everyone to get involved. All those participating took part in a training day through Revealing Research, and held a development day to perfect their displays. The event also receieved press coverage in The Courier, and Microbiology Today.
Pipe-cleaners, swimming caps, building bricks and cans of coke. It sounds like a list for Blue Peter – but these are just some of materials that scientists from the Universities of Dundee and Abertay used during Brain Awareness Day 2009.
On March 21st 2009 neuroscience and psychology was brought to life in a fun and interactive way at Dundee’s science centre, Sensation. Under the guidance of Dr Jon Urch, researchers from three of the University of Dundee’s four Colleges prepared activities to demonstrate some core concepts in neuroscience and emotional psychology. Dr Emma Shanks and Marianne Schimpl, got visitors to dress up in costumes that illustrated the relative numbers of nerves in different part of their bodies (a homunculus) (photo on left).
Dr Alison McNeilly used fruits to reveal some fascinating facts about brain size. Did you know that a giraffe’s brain is only the size of an orange? Dr Elizabeth Mitchell helped children to design nerve cells of all shapes and sizes, which they used to build a brightly coloured ‘Brainbow’ collage.
During a special experiment run by Dr Caroline Stewart, visitors to the centre investigated if the caffeine in coke affected their alertness as they challenged each other in Dundee Science Centre’s popular Mindball arena.
The neuroscientists were also joined by a team of Psychologists representing SINAPSE (Scotland‘ Imagine Network – A Platform for Excellent Science) who hosted two stands on emotion and Mounir Atassi, who gave members of the public the chance to observe their own nerve impulses (photo on right).
Elizabeth Mitchell commented, "Brain Awareness Day was an enjoyable and rewarding challenge as it allowed us as researchers to be creative, improve our communication skills and bring our research to a wider audience".
Download this document to find out more information about local scientists involved in research in to the brain and the quiz that was held on Brain Awareness Day on March 21st 2009.
Leading researchers from Dundee University guided family audiences into the fascinating world of science at Sensation Science Centre in Dundee this month. Sensation hosted the ‘Sharing Science’ event, which proved extremely popular with all of our weekend visitors and resulted in a lot of positive feedback from visitors and members alike.
One visitor commented that "This was the best event and most fun day out I have had for a long time. Thanks to all of the scientists for putting on such a good show."
Sharing Science researchers discussed their work with young families and anyone with an interest in science. The hands–on displays prepared by the scientists went down a storm with young children and they offered them chances to:
This event was co–ordinated by Revealing Research, an equal partnership between Sensation (Dundee Science Centre) and the University of Dundee. This new public outreach resource has been funded by a Science Engagement Grant from the Scottish Government.
Sharing Science was a series of public engagement events funded by a Science Engagement Grant from the Scottish Government awarded to Professor Mary Bownes from University of Edinburgh. The grant was awarded to the Scottish Initiative for Biotechnology Education (SIBE), University of Dundee, University of Edinburgh (School of Geosciences), Our Dynamic Earth, Edinburgh, Dundee Science Centre and Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) in Oban.
The grant funded science communication training for enthusiastic researchers from SAMS and the Universities of Dundee and Edinburgh. The researchers then worked closely with outreach organisers in each university and Science Communicators at the science centres to develop a range of models/displays/presentations and posters to help them relate and explain their research or field of research to families visiting the science centres.
Activities involved letting children find out what their own DNA looked like and they were able to take it home in a necklace. There was also the chance to learn about diabetes and healthy living by practising some basic exercises to burn calories and improve their digestive system.
January 2008 saw the launch of the Cafe Science Dundee, a new series of public events, set up in partnership with University of Dundee, University of Abertay, Sensation Science Centre and Scottish Enterprise Tayside (SET). Cafe Science Dundee is designed to bring cutting–edge scientific research to the wider public by offering an informal forum where the latest ideas in science and technology can be explored, discussed and debated in a relaxed setting. Prominent scientists from a wide range of fields explain an area of their research, assuming no prior knowledge of the subject, and then take time to debate and discuss it with the audience over a cup of coffee.
The Cafe Science Dundee events are hosted at Chambers Coffee House and Restaurant on South Tay Street in Dundee and start at 7pm on the last Monday of every month.
Follow this link to view a clip of Marios describing stem cells in our bodies from 8th October 2008.
Designs for Life is a project which is exploring the process of visualisation of laboratory data relating to aspects of cell and gene research. Through a series of production collaborations and integrated public engagement the project aims to stimulate debate at the confluence of science and visual culture.
A number of scientists including Post Docs and PIs from the College of Life Sciences are involved in a project called Designs for Life, which brings together science and art. Each scientist has collaborated with artist printer Paul Harrison on selected days over a four week period in the publishing facility of the Visual Art Centre (VRC). The activity was documented and forms the basis for the exhibition and symposium.
The project is being lead by Paul Harrison and there was a symposium on 13th February and where the work was exhibited along with a piece of music written for the event. The art work is currently on display in the VRC at the Dundee Contemporary Arts (DCA).