The BSI was delighted to again be part of the 2015 Brighton Science Festival. This annual month-long celebration of science on the south coast aims to engage and fascinate visitors with the wonder of science. The attendees are always highly engaged, making this event a pleasure to attend. For 2015, we took part in two activities at the festival, one aimed at families with the other aimed at a mainly adult audience.
Bright Sparks Weekend
Brighton Science Festival's Bright Sparks weekend for families returned for its 10th year. This weekend is a unique opportunity for parents and their children to share science with one another. From creepy crawlies to serious snot and from wicked wildlife to magnificent maths, there was something to inspire, fascinate and thrill every young mind
The BSI had a stand at this event for the whole weekend with our “Secret Life of Snot” activity. This provided children (not to mention some adults!) with a whistle-stop tour of our giant nose and its snot-making factory. We then moved on to discuss what snot does, why we produce so much of it and then was even the opportunity for kids to make their own bag of fake gruesome snot! This provide to be incredibly popular and a great way to get kids thinking about how their body works.
The weekend broke all our expectations on attendance with over 1,100 visitors on the Saturday and a staggering 1,500 visitors on the Sunday. So busy was it that we were actually ran out of snot-making bags for a short time (although the local supermarket came to our rescue). The quality of discussions with members of the public was very high and it was so nice to find so people interested in finding out more about immunology. Many thanks to Louisa James who helped us run the stand on the Saturday.
Big Science Saturday
The Big Science Saturday is a science extravaganza providing members of the public with the opportunity to hear talks from scientists on a vast array of topics. The BSI put on a talk called “Allergy myths”. With stories about allergies so prominent in the media, we thought it was time to set the record straight by exploring the science around allergies and discriminating fact from fiction.
We were very lucky to be joined by two very knowledgeable speakers from the MRC and Asthma UK Centre for Allergic Mechanisms based at King’s College London. Louisa James spoke first and provided an introduction to what allergies are, how an allergic reaction occurs and how the immune system develops responses to allergens. She then went on to discuss the study released earlier that week that showed that the risk of developing a peanut allergy may be modified by early exposure to peanuts.
Our second speaker was Catherine Hawrylowicz who discussed her research investigating how the immune system works to keep our airways healthy, how this system changes in people with in severe asthma, and whether vitamin D has the potential to prevent and improve asthma control.
The talk certainly went down with the audience and the speakers were asked a huge range of fascinating and insightful questions on everything from mmunotherapy for allergies to the immune regulations effects of vitamin D. The questions persisted an hour or so after the event was due to end, showing just what an appetite there was for knowledge on allergies and immunity.
Our thanks to all our speakers, volunteers and the Brighton Science Festival organisers, Richard Robinson and Keita Lynch.
Science Communication Manager