Brainiology Event

Brainiology Event

Guest Post : Tom Butts, University of Liverpool

The School of Life Sciences held a ‘making the brain’ workshop in the Liverpool World Museum on Saturday 21st January as part of the ‘Meet the Scientists: Brainiacs’ day. Members of the public (and more to the point, their kids) came along and had a go at a number of activities all designed to get people thinking about the brain, how it works, and how it has evolved.

The first activity was to ‘build a brain’, where people had to assemble a 3D life-size anatomical model of the human brain. The second was ‘evolving the brain’ and involved arranging a number of animal photographs on a large phylogeny (of vertebrates). The final part was to try and match up the pictures of the animals’ brains to the correct animal on the phylogeny as a way to think about how brains have evolved. I had some cracking volunteers, including postdocs, PhD students, Masters’ students, and undergrad students from across the biological diaspora in Liverpool, and it was a cracking day had by all. Though knackering. I now have even vaster levels of respect for primary school teachers.

Fascination of Plants Day at Liverpool World Museum

Report by Geraint Parry.

On May 16th the World Museum in Liverpool hosted its third Fascination of Plants Day (FoPD) in collaboration with scientists and educators from the University of Liverpool.

Before the doors opened!

Before the doors opened!

The organisation of an indoor event is one of the few reasons to hope for a rainy day but sadly it was nice and sunny in Liverpool! Nevertheless about 500 visitors passed through the exhibition, each spending at least 20 minutes learning about many aspects of plant science.

Everyone likes a free gift so the exhibit from Ness Botanic Gardens was very popular! Rose Froud and Andrew Lambie showing visitors of all ages how to make pots out of newspaper and then helped them plant either sunflowers or runner beans!

Dr Geraldine Reid from the Museums botany department set up a microscope where the visitors were challenged to try and find locally discovered new Diatom varieties.

Rose Froud from Ness Gardens rolls newspaper plant pots

Rose Froud from Ness Gardens rolls newspaper plant pots

Elsewhere techniques of plant science ancient and modern collided as dried and mounted specimens from the botanical collections were situated alongside a DNA sequencer that University of Liverpool researchers had used to sequence the wheat genome. This machine has recently been donated to the museum for future exhibitions and formed the second-stage of an exhibit that allowed (mostly) kids to extract strawberry DNA and then ‘load’ it onto the sequencer! Rumours are unfounded that this is the start of octoploid Strawberry Genome Project…… The group from UoL was led by Dr Geraint Parry and Professor Anthony Hall, ably helped by members the Life Science Outreach team.

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Preparing to extract strawberry, ready for the sequencer!

Overall it was extremely gratifying to see plenty of smiling faces leaving the exhibition clutching their DNA extractions and temporary plant pots!! Hopefully they’ll be back again next year!