On a hot summery weekend in July, the BSI took part in the Lambeth Country Show, a huge festival of music, food, workshops and – of course – farm animals.
Held in the sprawling setting of Brockwell Park in South London, the Lambeth Country Show is an inclusive community-led event which attracts well over 150,000 visitors each year.
We teamed up with the Royal Society of Biology to host activities alongside several other science societies in a huge marquee called the ‘Biology Big Top’. The BSI’s theme this year was allergies and our enthusiastic volunteers, Imeabong Antia, Kam Atwal, Alice Burton, Catherine Ducker, Tania Hancock and Laura Pallett, did a fantastic job of delivering our allergybased activities to our engaged and inquisitive visitors.
Using plasticine and pipe cleaners, visitors could make their own mast cell whilst our volunteers described how this particular immune cell initiates the allergic response. This was a hit with the under-10s, who had the choice of taking their mast cell home or contributing to our mast cell gallery! Older visitors were enthusiastic about taking a peak flow reading and plotting it on our chart against their height. Peak flow measures airflow through the lungs, and our volunteers described to visitors how this is used to test lung capacity in people with allergic asthma. Finally, in true festival style, we BSI at Lambeth Country Show had a coconut shy-style game in the form of a giant nose where visitors were invited to throw ‘pollen balls’ at its Velcro nostrils and cause a bout of hay fever!
Overall, the weekend was a success and our stand had a constant stream of visitors of all ages who were keen to have engaging and active discussions about allergy and the immune system.