Squashed bananas and fuzzy neurons
15 November 2017
With oversized lab coats and mushed up fruit at the ready, more than fifty school children and their teachers visited Cardiff University and became neuroscientists for a morning.
On Monday 13 November MRC CNGG researchers were thrilled to welcome 52 pupils from Oldcastle Primary School, in Bridgend, to Cardiff University’s Hadyn Ellis Building.
Five activity stations were set up to give the children a hands-on experience of learning about the brain; from block-building IQ tests to Stroop racing, a racing game and brain teaser in one, which involves reading aloud the colour of words rather than the word itself as you step on them.
A highlight for many of the school children was the chance to extract DNA from a banana. The extraction involved the banana, pre-squashed, being mixed with shampoo and alcohol, then drained through coffee filters until the children could see the results at the bottom of their test tubes.
Everyone who attended was asked to share their favourite part of the morning on a brain-shaped card which was then hung on a feedback tree. After DNA, making blue-light glasses was a big hit, with many of the children wearing their creations as they left to catch their bus back to school.
Hayley Moulding, a PhD student, looks at different factors that affect sleep and how that impacts on mental health as part of her research.
Hayley said, “The sessions were great fun. We had felt tip pens and glue everywhere! There were a lot of snazzy glasses being created and they even listened to what I had to say about the science behind them – I wish my audience were always so attentive when I have to give a talk.”
The children also had a chance to create model neurons from fuzzy pipe-cleaners which were then stuck on a giant poster of the brain. The children are currently learning about the brain in class and were able to take the giant poster with them to display it in their school.
We'd like to say a big thank you to the pupils of Oldcastle Primary School for paying us a visit and being so enthusiastic and well-behaved.