Activity: Visitors will be invited to make their own mast cell out of plasticine and pipe cleaners – they can take this away with them if they wish!
Aim: To impart understanding of how an allergic reaction begins on a cellular level.
How to make:
- You will need a range of craft material - plasticine is key but also pipe cleaners, wool, beads, pasta shapes and anything else you like. Put these in separate pots or bowls.
- Draw and print off a diagram of a mast cell and create an information sheet describing how allergic reactions start. Ours can be downloaded and printed here and here.
- You will also need wet wipes and a tablecloth if possible - this can get messy
What to do: Visitors can be invited to sit and make their own mast cell out of plasticine and other craft materials using the diagram. Demonstrators are to talk to visitors about how the different components of the cell trigger an allergic response. This activity is designed to work for several different age groups and you should tailor the information you give out accordingly. For older visitors - mast cells are one of the key immune cells involved in the allergic response. When IgE antibodies on the cell surface bind to allergens, they trigger the mast cell to release histamine, a chemical which causes the symptoms of an allergic reaction. For younger visitors – making a cell that makes you sneeze if you have hay fever.