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Schoolchildren and local residents join King's College London researchers in science festival

Nearly 550 local school children and their teachers, parents and others joined researchers for a special day-long festival of science on Friday 16 June 2017.

The event, with a theme of how our genes make us unique, was held at the Medical Research Council (MRC) Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre (SGDP) at King’s College London’s Institute for Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience.

Visitors to the event had the opportunity to meet and talk to scientists – from PhD students to Professors – in a huge range of games and activities, all of which were based on real scientific research taking place at the MRC SGDP, an interdisciplinary research centre which explores psychiatry, psychology, sociology, statistics and genetics.

Over 20 activities and games were on offer at the research institute in Denmark Hill, including extracting DNA from strawberries, controlling toy cars and making golf balls float using only the power of the mind, and building model brains and DNA. Visitors also had the chance to talk to twins who have been contributing to SGDP research for 20 years.

According to Professor Cathryn Lewis, who works at the MRC SGDP and helped to organise the event: “It’s fantastic to have this opportunity to open our doors to our local community and show them what we do. My colleagues and I have all worked hard to develop fun activities which demonstrate the huge range of research we do, and it’s wonderful to see our efforts rewarded. We’ve had great fun meeting and learning from the children who’ve attended the event, as well as showing them our work.”

Comments left by children who attended included: “I think was awesome! I ♥ the brain making! It was SO fun.” and “Funest place Ever.”

The event was held to preview the MRC’s Festival of Medical Research, being held from 17-25 June 2017.

The full list of activities on the day was:

  • Build a brain
  • Writing brain poems
  • How we see – the brain’s visual system
  • Meet the psychiatrist
  • Using brain activity to control a racing car
  • See your brain using tablets
  • Epigenetics
  • DNA saliva kits
  • Marshmallow test
  • Big 5 personality test
  • Brain bank
  • DNA from strawberries
  • DNA models
  • Exploring mind wandering
  • ADHD stall
  • Body tracker
  • EditLab Flare study
  • The genetics of being tall – how do genes determine our height?
  • Talk to our Twins Early Development Study (TEDS) twins
  • Social relationships study