Thursday, 27 October 2011

Celebrate Science: Day 3

We have had a fantastic final day of Celebrate Science 2011! Once again there were members of the public with their faces pressed up against the glass doors pleading to be let in to the marquee before 10am, and there was a steady stream of new people joining us for the event throughout the day, right up until 4pm (and beyond!). All of the exhibitors and visitors have had a fabulous time exchanging ideas and sharing experiences; there was lots of laughter, and we will all sleep well tonight!

Celebrate Science 2011 has been a huge success! Once again we had over 1,000 new people visit us in the marquee today, and have had a grand total of more than 3,500 visitors over the course of the event. We simply wouldn’t be able to run this event without the generosity, enthusiasm and commitment of the many volunteers from Durham University who either ran exhibits or acted as stewards for the event (or both!). In addition to the many volunteers from various departments across Durham University, we also had a variety of other people involved in Celebrate Science, who I refer to as “external exhibitors” for want of a better phrase, who were similarly committed to sharing their ideas and enthusiasm, and who I want to take the opportunity to publicly thank for enriching the event.

First mention must go to Proctor and Gamble, who provided some financial support for the event as well as a team of volunteers who amazed us all with magic materials and revealed the mystery of what happens inside dishwashers.

Second mention goes to the pathology team from University Hospital North Durham, who came to us with the idea of running a Virtual Autopsy, and in addition to making that Keynote a great success also ran an exhibit allowing visitors to become “Disease Detectives”.

Continuing the detective theme, the team from STEAM (Science and Technology Education Around Museums) invited visitors to solve the mystery of the missing mummy, and follow the journey of an artefact from initial discovery to eventual display.

Finally, today, for one day only, we had the pleasure of welcoming Cancer Research UK to the Celebrate Science marquee. Their team of volunteers from the Newcastle Cancer Centre introduced visitors to a day in the life of a cancer researcher, and provided the opportunity to extract the DNA from strawberries. Did you know that strawberries have more DNA per cell than humans?

We also had two major installations within the marquee, challenging each other for popularity, and both winning a special place in the memories of visitors to the marquee. Pro Energy, the installation provided and run by Greenfield Community and Arts Centre, is an interactive installation using light, sound, music and movement to explore healthy lifestyle choices. Pro Energy was created by young people from Newton Aycliffe with artists Falling Cat and health professionals, and certainly had our younger visitors expending their energy!

Meanwhile, in the Planetarium provided and run by the Life Science Centre, visitors were introduced to the characters of the constellations in the night sky and found out where to look if they want the chance to see a supernova. Sadly, it is cloudy in Durham tonight, so there is no opportunity for more stargazing. I am instead enjoying a nice sit down and a cup of tea, and thinking about plans for Celebrate Science 2012! See you there!

Paula Martin is Science Outreach Co-ordinator for Durham University.

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