Me and my microbiome Mini Blog Series 5

10. Festival day arrives!

This is the second year of the Norwich Science Festival and crowds had been flocking all week to the huge variety of science-themed activities on offer. In total 75 000 people visited! We set up our stand for the Friday and Saturday of the Norwich Research Park’s solving problems with science days. Our introductory quiz proved to be a great way to get people thinking about the bacteria living in them and the guess the weight of microbes in us challenge never failed to amaze people! We then guided people along the ‘meet the microbes’ game stations where they pressed the flashing buttons and watched as the bacterial species in the light up gut changed from natural birth to C-section, breast milk to formula, with different diets and following a course of antibiotics. All the visitors enjoyed the experience and said how engaging they had found the activity and the discussions with our scientists. We collected simple feedback from visitors to find out what people thought. On the Friday, Mel, Ian and Zoe took to the cabaret stage to perform their This is your life – Bifidobacteria show which went down very well, particularly with audience members old enough to remember the TV show, who found the concept extremely amusing! We’re looking forward to refining our stand for the next outing.

11. We’re going to the Royal Society!

After submitting our application at the end of August to secure a spot at the 2018 Royal Society Summer Science show we were delighted to hear that we have been selected! We can now take the prototype we developed and tested at the Norwich Science Festival and transform it into a giant walk-through gut! This is going to be a challenge but we are encouraged by the fact that the concepts of the game stations were so well received by visitors to the Norwich Science Festival that to elevate our stand to create a fully immersive experience seems a really worthwhile task and the best way to engage society with our research. The team at the Hackspace all visited the stand at the Norwich event to see it working and are also really excited to be able to progress the project to the next stage. Jenni met with some of the team at the hackspace to explain the new brief for the giant gut and the team immediately began sketching designs, researching materials online and using equations to work out how much stuff we will need etc… It is going to be a BIG job!!