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What’s Inside the Mystery Box? – Bristol Big Bang fair 2017

20 July 2017

On the 6th and 7th of July 2017 researchers from the MRC IEU headed to the Trinity Centre, Bristol to attend the Big Bang Fair. This UK wide festival aims to engage school children and families with science, technology engineering and maths and is an opportunity for kids to engage with scientific subject matter in fun and unusual ways. Split into two zones - an enterprise zone and a research zone – school kids and their families were able to meet hundreds of different professionals and researchers working in scientific areas and see what being a researcher is really like.

In order to fit with this theme researchers from the MRC IEU and Integrative Cancer Epidemiology Programme (ICEP) took with them a series of activities including a mystery box requiring teamwork to work out what was inside, apps designed to help people with learning disabilities recognise facial expressions and play board games revealing how chance, choice and risk can have a big impact on our overall health.

One example of these activities took the form of the ICEP mystery box. Here at the MRC IEU interdisciplinary cooperation is crucial to our research establishing causal links between lifestyle factors and disease. We presented this concept in the form of a mystery box, inviting children to work together to discover what was inside! The children had to use their senses of touch and smell to determine what was hidden in the box, showing how different disciplines and approaches can work together to produce scientific research.

Dr. Joshua Bell from MRC IEU said “It was great to share with younger minds what epidemiology is all about. We got them to see first-hand the sorts of questions about cancer we’re trying to answer, the challenges we face, and why scientists from lots of different backgrounds are needed to make real progress.”

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