Big Bang 2014

DECIDE Marie Curie Research Associate Laura Garcia Ibanez recently volunteered for the British Society for Immunology at the Big Bang Fair 2014 at the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) in Birmingham.

‘The Secret Life of Snot’ was one of the several Society and NHS stands in the biology zone. Visitors were able to ‘crawl through the nose’ which featured cilia, epithelia cells, goblet cells (mucus making), nerves, blood vessels as well as bacteria and viruses.

The ‘make your own snot’ section used a simple recipe for slime and involved children mixing two prepared solutions and food colouring into a small bag for them to take away. While preparing the snot, children asked questions about its function and why it changes colour when unwell.

Keen young scientists played a game called 'whose nose' where nose pictures (elephant, human, shark, pigeon, monkey) had to be matched with its function. A video game about infection called ‘Sneeze’ helped the users to visualise ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ and reinforce a government campaign aimed at reducing the spread of flu viruses.

The stand also provided an opportunity to observe the different types of cells in the blood (neutrophils, platelets, red blood cells) through a microscope.

Laura is currently in her 1st year of her PhD at the University of Birmingham and really enjoyed the experience helping out over the weekend. She said, “The stand provided a great opportunity to test my knowledge!”