Public Engagement




Carlton School pupils practice pipetting (left) and Isolate DNA (right)


We believe that engaging the public with the science that we do is an important part of our work. We visit schools several times a year to explain what viruses are and how we investigate the biology of virus infection. We discuss how viruses spread using props such as hair gel with glitter “snot” and talcum powder "sneezes". We show how influenza re-assorts using bags of coloured tubes.

The children like the discussions of small pathogens versus large pathogens. We ask “How big do you think the biggest pathogen is that can fit inside your body?” - Turns out it’s 10m long! Doctors removed a 10m tapeworm from Sally Mae Wallace in September 1991. Finally, we end the talk by showing parasitic worm samples. Popular questions are: “where’s its face?” and “can you eat it?”.

You can view our 'What is Science?' slideshow (6.8Mb) and visit the Cells Alive website by clicking these links.

Next the children can pretend to be real scientists. We use microscopes to show them the cells we work with and how they look when they are infected with Green Fluorescent Protein encoding viruses. They can see blood smear slides and have a go at precipitating DNA. They also try cell culture (water and red food dye) and finish off by designing their own pathogen using plasticine. Fun is had by all.

Schools also visit our labs at UCL. Pictures of the recent visit by Carlton School can be viewed at the Carlton School visit Gallery

To see pictures of our public engagements for children over the years go to the Public Engagement Gallery




Thank you!


Thank you pictures from school visits

We often receive great thank you pictures and letters from the children after their visits.

Roll your mouse over the names below to read some.

Page last modified on 11 jun 14 15:02 by Jane Lorna Elizabeth Turner