Queen Mary’s shows fun side of science with their Mile End fair

Youngster watches magnified flea

Youngster watches magnified flea - Credit: QMary's

Boffins held a bit of a flea circus when they staged an exhibition showing the fun side of science and medicine.

Kids learn about heartbeats at Queen Mary's science fair

Kids learn about heartbeats at Queen Mary's science fair - Credit: QMary's

This year’s science festival at the London University’s Queen Mary College at Mile End attracted 300 curious visitors from 11-year-olds to university students and researchers.

The big attraction was when scientists from the British Pharmacological Society showed the effects of caffeine on the body by inviting youngsters to place water fleas on a microscope slide, dropping a low-caffein solution on the minute creatures and measuring their heart rate with a clicker counter.

“Our exhibitors are brilliant at demonstrating research in easy-to-understand ways, using visual arts and humour,” said organiser Jane Batchelor.

“They’re opening up science for a whole new audience. The Festival was aimed at everyone, from young children to adult ‘big kids’ and A-Level students thinking about studying medicine.”

Performing at the fair was University College London’s ‘Science showman’ professor Andrea Sella, whose creative chemistry demonstrations fill theatres up and down the country. He demonstrated the science behind ice, crystals and crystallography with the help of frozen petrol, a large block of cheese and a giant crystal made of LEGO.

Queen Mary’s own Dr Mohammed Khanji talked about keeping the heart healthy, while the British Red Cross staged a performance explaining how to save a life.

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The Octagon at Mile End also hosted a science ‘market’ with of hands-on exhibitions, talks and displays from experts which included the low-down on genomes, the “engineering manual” of DNA.

Visitors left with answers to all their questions—none were sent away with a flea in their ear.