IMCSB representing at Explorathon 2019

This year we had a number of groups participating across Glasgow at Explorathon.

The Institute was represented by Dr Mathis Riehle and researchers from the Institute with our 'Fantastic Proteins and Where to Find Them' activity which was a huge success at the Science Festival. The public engaged with fantastic proteins ranging from transporters in yeast mitochondria, light sensors in plants, motors and filaments in cells, kidney building proteins in flies, as well as Alzheimer and Parkinson associated proteins in human brain cells. Participants hunted for fantastic proteins in a tent symbolising a cell that was filled with balls as well as 3D protein prints and their sources (yeast, plants, cells, mitochondria, cells, brain, neurons). Partipcants then made their own protein out of play-doh which they could take home with them in their very own petri dish!

The Milligan research group took their 'Food for Science' activity to the Riverside Museum. Their activity focused on asking the public 'What is the effect of the most common foods on our body?' Exploring how food is broken down or transformed into small units, called molecules, in different sites of our body and the effect they have. The activity aims at showing the effect on our body of some ingredients present in the most common food and drinks. Focusing on three molecules namely caffeine, capsaicin and fibre (short-chain fatty acids). The audience took part by participating in a game whereby they chose where they thought the molecule would have an effect and the consequences this would have on our body’s physiology. They used a poster representing the shape of a human body with highlighted key organs. Participants picked the selected molecule (in a shape of a Velcro covered ball) and threw it to the body part (on the poster) where they thought to be a target of the molecule. 

The CeMi group activity was titled 'Materials Matter' and they took this to the Forge Shopping Centre. They engaged with both children and adults, explaining how scientists nanokick cells to make bone, interpreting this through a game where they could 'nanokick' a cell by shaking (using a game on a tablet device) and if this was to the right vibration, they would make either a fat or bone cell. The group explained the research happening in the Centre for the Cellular Microenvironment, in particular the research around the development of a new technology aimed at treating victims injured by a landmine or IED who may have shattered or missing bone, repaired and replaced by a 3D printed matrix infused with nanokicked cells taken from donor bone marrow or fat.  Participants could also experience how the different tissues in the body feel and took part in feeling around the mystery box, guessing what it was! Was it bone, hard tissue, soft tissue...or something else? 

The Tokatlidis research group presented the 'MitoChallenge', also at the Riverside museum. This activity used a mitochondria-related board game in two versions, one for kids under 10 and another for ages 10 and over. Using this game, they highlighted some of the simple ideas of how proteins find their way into mitochondria, what is required for this process and what happens when these processes go wrong.

It was great to have such strong representation from the Institute across Glasgow! 


First published: 1 November 2019

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