The Glasgow Science Festival took place from the 6 - 16 June 2019

Science Sunday (Text by Sejal Modha)

The MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research (CVR) staff and students ran multiple activities at the ‘Science Sunday’ as part of the Glasgow Science Festival.

Science Sunday 1

‘Bioinformatics with Bricks’ activity attracted visitors of all ages. They learned about basic bioinformatic algorithms and genome sequence analysis by solving Lego based ‘assembly’ puzzles for rhinovirus and flu virus sequences. Visitors were also able to ‘design’ their own sequence using a Lego brick-based sequencer. Upon completing one of the puzzles, visitors were given a ‘Bioinformatician’ sticker or a (temporary) tattoo which they all absolutely loved.

Science Sunday 2

The CVR also showed off their ‘Biohazard’ challenge. As part of this, visitors worked in a glovebox and their task was to separate the ‘female’ mosquitoes (blue coloured pegs) from ‘male’ mosquitoes (red coloured pegs) from a given petri dish as fast as they could to win the top spot on our leader board. They were also able to try their hand at some ‘tissue culture’!

Winners of the glove box and bioinformatics with bricks challenges won free copies of the CVR colouring book.

Science Sunday 3

Visitors could also ‘build’ their own viruses. As part of this, they learned about the different part of the virus anatomy and how they are able to cause different diseases. They got to take their viruses away with a ‘I am a star virologist’ sticker. 

Science Sunday 4

Pub Quiz

As part of the Science festival, CVR also ran an ‘Outbreak’ pub quiz on 11 June in Dram. It was an enjoyable evening for those who participated in the quiz and especially for team poodogfreyja who won the quiz!

Science Sunday 5

Science Sunday 6

Microbiology Disease Detective labs at Glasgow Science Festival (Text by Dr Tansy Hammarton)

On Thursday 13th June, we were delighted to welcome over 80 Higher and Advanced Higher pupils and their teachers from St Andrews & St Brides High School, East Kilbride, Larbert High School & the Wellington School, Ayr, to our Be a Microbiologist – Disease Detective labs, organised by Dr Tansy Hammarton, as part of Glasgow Science Festival.  All three schools had previously taken part in this annual event, and were delighted to be bringing a new set of pupils to experience it.  Over a 2-hour hands-on lab session, pupils explored either a bacterial or parasitic case study and used a range of lab techniques (including staining and microscopy, cell culture, PCR, and biochemical and serological tests) to diagnose their ‘patients’.  Pupils were led through their analysis by a team of 18 volunteers from the 3Is and SoLS (including a large contingent of L3 and L4 microbiology undergraduates as well as PhD students, postdocs, technicians and academic staff), allowing pupils ample opportunity to discuss university life as well as microbiology.  Feedback received showed that the event was very popular with all who attended, including our volunteers, who, particularly for the undergraduates, gained valuable science communication experience and are now keen to do more public engagement. Thanks to Wellcome-ISSF for funding the GSF entry fee and to Loraine McDonald and her team who provided fantastic technical support for the event.

Science Sunday, 16 June 2019 (Text by Aisling Brady)

 It was a fantastic day! We delivered our three activities based around our theme "The Human Heart in Action" with "Eat the cell", "Own your heart" and "Blood & the Body: Go with the flow". The families who came to take part loved them! We also had a colouring station and an "X-ray photobooth", where kids (or adults) could play patient and doctor. Everyone found the activities super fun but also got to learn a bit about how important their heart is. We had contact with BHF and had some great freebies to give away as well as some good information leaflets for parents etc. 

 ‌Kinning Park Complex was a brilliant venue. It is a great community and we were thrilled to be able to bring the science from us to them! We are aware that not every family can make the trip from their home to universities or Kelvingrove, where a lot of the Glasgow Science Festival events take place, for various reasons including finances. That is why we appreciate being able to bring science to communities like Kinning Park, so that it is accessible and inclusive for everyone! Additionally, we were made aware of the diversity of the community in the area and that many volunteers for KPC or families attending may have little/no English and often speak mostly Spanish. For this reason we designed our activities to be as inclusive as possible, with photo "How To" sheets and Spanish translations of these too (as you can see in the photos).


The internship opportunity was just fantastic and we appreciate all the help Dr Deborah McNeil has given us to develop the skills required to organise a successful day of outreach activities. I would 100% recommend this internship opportunity to other MVLS PhD students interested in public engagement and project management when the opportunity comes around again next year!

First published: 26 June 2019