This time last week, MicroScientists went back to school! We’ve made some fantastic progress over the last few months in developing our suite of activities in our workshop, and have been busy designing our activity booklet that goes with it (and what a great job Jabur has done!). Last week, we visited Llanyrafon Primary School in Cwmbran for the first in a number of school visits.
Llanyrafon have been really engaged with us since our inception, and have helped us shape the activities to how they are today! This was the first workshop in a series of school visits scheduled for this summer, along with our science and public festivals (more to come on those!).
The visit comprised of our four fun hands-on activities. We started with a small question and answer session to find out what the children did know about microbiology. They shouted out some key words they associated with microbiology, giving us an idea of their knowledge.
We then introduced general microbiology with ‘Meet the Microbes’. The children were really engaged and loved the Giant Microbes that we threw out for them to take a closer look at. We talked about some good ones (Saccharomyces, Lactobacilli), bad ones (E. coli, common cold virus) and the in-betweener commensals (Staphylococcus, Candida). We also talked about the role of white blood cells and how they keep us healthy and happy :).
The children were then split into groups, given an activity booklet and assigned to an activity to complete over the next 25 minutes. One group started with the ‘Building Biofilms’ activity, learning about the processes involved in biofilm formation, and why they are very important in infections and diseases, and indeed, in natural places too!
The teams of children then built their own building-block biofilm structure, and swapped sides to use our ‘antimicrobial balls’ to destroy the other team’s biofilm!
Whilst the carnage ensued, other children were learning about the importance of hand hygiene as part of our contamination and infection control activity. The basis of this is using a fluorescent powder or hand lotion and viewing under a UV light. Then hands are washed/cleaned either with water alone, hand sanitiser, or soap and water, and the differences in cleaning were compared and recorded in the booklet. The kids thoroughly enjoyed this activity, and we also had a go at seeing how far contamination can go by shaking hands down a line of people! The record was 6 people long!
Our final activity was utilising the expertise of our resident healthcare scientist Hayley (who unfortunately couldn’t be with us for our inaugural workshop). We brought along our ‘blood pit’ filled with microbes that the children could fish out and try to identify according to a Microbial Passport. The passport shows the microbe, what it is, what it causes and how it can be treated (if at all!), and the children complete their activity booklet to say what they found and become mini-doctors by prescribing a treatment! We also had a couple of microscopes with us to look at different stains of cheek cells.
We had an absolute blast and are very grateful for the support that the staff at Llanyrafon Primary have shown us so far in this project. We look forward to coming back again and again!