Build a Brain workshop

A team of cerebrovascular researchers within ICAMS and including some colleagues from the University of Strathclyde and University of Manchester have been very busy engaging with the public around their ongoing research through 2 events.  These were timed to coincide with the BRAIN & BRAIN PET 2022 meeting and the lead up to this when it was held in Glasgow.

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Funding was secured from the International Society of Cerebral Blood Flow & Metabolism (ISCBFM) to run a series of 6 “Build-a-brain” workshops across Primary Schools in Glasgow in collaboration with Dr Lizzie Burns.  These were a tremendous success and over the 6 workshops around 600 pupils ranging from P5-P7 learned about what the various structures in the brain were involved with and built their own brain from modelling clay.  They were able to take these and some informative postcards (to colour in) home.  Dr Lizzie Burns delivered the workshop online and was supported by 2 scientist volunteers present in each class.  A huge thanks to the students and post-docs from the University of Glasgow and the University of Strathclyde who volunteered their time to spend a day in school.  The feedback was hugely positive both from the pupils, the teachers and those scientists in the classes.

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On Saturday 28th May a day of public engagement activities across 2 sites in the city centre of Glasgow were further held.  In Central Station there was a large inflatable megabrain, which was indeed mega!  You could walk through the brain and learn about the various parts and their roles.  This attracted a huge amount of attention and its estimated that over 1000 people interacted with the brain over the day.  Alongside this, people were able to build a brain from modelling clay (as above) and also take part in a Brain Health Quiz through Brain Health Scotland. 

At Buchanan Galleries, there were activities spanning building a pipecleaner neuron, virtual reality walk through dementia experiences, build a brain, models of the brain and the nervous system as well as models to simulate the loss of sensation or vision and loss of function experienced by those who have had a stroke.  There was even a large snakes and ladders style game to demonstrate the importance of time after you suspect someone may have had a stroke.  Again, the volunteers here were kept busy all day and they estimate around 300 people stopped past to learn more about their brain and what happens when things go wrong. 

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Engagement with the public was excellent, people were really interested to hear about the science and research going on with great feedback.  The day wouldn’t have been possible without the army of volunteers (staff and students) from the Universities of Glasgow, Strathclyde, Edinburgh and Manchester and representatives from Brain Health Scotland and Alzheimer’s Research UK (ARUK).

We thank the ISCBFM, ARUK Scotland Network, the British Heart Foundation, Brain Health Scotland for funding support and Glasgow Convention Bureau, STEM Glasgow, the staff & pupils at all the primary schools, Central Station & Buchanan Galleries for working with us to deliver these fantastic public engagement events.

First published: 21 June 2022