education, science

Taking Science to the public – last minute planning Preparing public engagement for the Brighton Science Festival Bright Sparks event

T minus 2 days. Time to check that everything is in place.

Last minute list:

1. Purchase of strawberries for the DNA extraction. This was a concern with the juxtaposition of the Bright Sparks Event and Valentine’s day – but there were plenty left in the shop.

2. Packaging of the items for lab coat decoration, DNA extraction, and translating DNA.  The smart storage crates have not arrived! On to plan B, we have found some smaller recycled cardboard boxes to replace them.

3. Checking the researchers on the volunteer list. One had to drop out but another volunteered so we have enough researchers on board to run for the whole day.

4. Preparing for the run-through tomorrow. One person identified to lead each activity for the practice. We will run the events tomorrow with the other volunteers acting as the participants so that everyone knows what to expect the next day when 500 visitors arrive!

5. Despite the clipboards and planning lists in hand, we know it will not be smooth sailing on the day so have a “don’t panic –  look in here” box of sellotape, string, blue tack, scissors and wet wipes for emergency repairs. @ASLAB Professor Alison Sinclair’s profile page Sinclair Lab website

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education, science

Taking Science To The Public Is Addictive – Time-line for the planning of the public engagement activity “DNA detectives” at the Brighton Science Festival 2015

T minus 12 months. Informal discussions were held about the main content of the activity – decoding the genetic information stored in DNA to generate proteins – and the costs and time commitments required.  The costs were estimated by the organizing team and one member applied for a science outreach grant from the Biochemical Society to fund the activities.

T minus 6 months. The funding was approved! Formalities were dealt with by the organizing team and the Science festival organizers were informed.

T minus 4 months.  Items required for the activities were ordered and stacked ready in the lab.

T minus 4 weeks. It’s all heating up now.

We decided to add a new activity – preparing DNA from strawberries. PhD students trialed this and showed that it was both practical and safe to do in the hectic environment of the Bright Sparks event.

A last minute addition of balloons was suggested to represent the amino acids – tests on researchers showed that yes, it increases fun element – especially the multi-colour spotted ones!

Information for the posters was reviewed, simplified, simplified then simplified again before being sent for printing.

The Brighton Science festival program was published and it looks like Brighton has a very exciting month ahead for to learn about and experience Science.

T minus 3 weeks. The organizing team collected names of Biochemistry and Biomedicine researchers from the University of Sussex who are available to run the activity on the day. A session to run-through the activates was booked and a final to-do list generated:  rota of researchers for the day; University of Sussex T-shirts for presenters; instruction lists for the day; packing session; last-minute purchasing.

So … please come and join the activity – book the date – Saturday 14th February at Hove Park School “Bright Sparks” event as part of the Brighton Science Festival.

http://www.BrightonScience.com.

@ASLAB

Professor Alison Sinclair’s profile page

Sinclair Lab website

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