Wellcome / EPSRC Centre for Interventional and Surgical Sciences


WEISS Features at the Science Museum Lates

10 February 2020

On Wednesday 29th January WEISS took part in Science Museum Lates, a monthly opportunity for curious adults to take over the Museum for the evening, reaching around 600 people with two interactive stalls on robotics and interventional devices.

WEISS Engineers at the Science Museum Lates

On Wednesday 29th January the Wellcome / EPSRC Centre for Interventional and Surgical Sciences took part in Science Museum Lates, a monthly opportunity for curious adults to take over the Museum for the evening.

This month’s Medicine themed event marked the opening of Medicine: The Wellcome Galleries this month. These provide a new home for the most significant medical collections in the world, featuring three thousand medical artefacts from the collections of Henry Wellcome and the Science Museum Group. 

Science Museum Lates have been going for over 11 years and become a staple of the capital’s ‘Museum Lates’ scene, with queues around the building regularly and it was no different this time, with over 1,500 people visiting over the 3½ hours.

Over the course of the evening two WEISS teams at different interactive stalls talked to over 600 people about how the centre’s research is contributing to the future of interventions across different innovation and application areas, from robotics to sensors, cardiac surgery to testing and development.The two WEISS teams were centre stage, featuring in two ground floor exhibitions amongst lunar landers, aeroplanes and a V2 bomb!

From start to finish, both stalls were swamped by curious and competitive visitors wanting to know more about healthcare engineering and try out hands-on activities developed by both teams.

It felt unreal to have people lined up five-deep to talk to you about your work and to look at the stuff we had. They really stuck around for long enough to grasp what you’re saying, following up with interesting questions of their own and ‘what if’ scenarios, it really was a great crowd. Erwin Alles, WEISS Lecturer

In ‘Looking Through the Keyhole (Surgery)’ visitors could learn how the Interventional Devices team support surgeons to overcome the key challenges of vision and movement in laparoscopic approaches through innovative, miniaturised imaging techniques, including all-optical ultrasound.

Visitors could try out surgery skills with a guidewire maze challenge, showing just how tricky inserting probes and sensors can be. There were also chances to squish phantoms, see ultrasound at work, and learn about everyday materials used in our work (PVA glue is used in brain phantoms and the material in your bike tyre in ultrasound probes!). 

The Surgical Robot Vision team’s ‘The Robot will See you Now’ addressed similar challenges but focussed on how hard and soft robotics provide current and potential solutions, with a range of activities and real tools on show to demonstrate the theory, practice and application. Alongside the chance to construct their own surgical robot arm, visitors were able to go straight from holding a real snake at the stall next door to playing the retro Snake game using a soft robotic joystick, learning how fluid can control these technologies and how pressure exerted is measured. 

It was fantastic to hear feedback from visitors about their interest in the research and a valuable experience for researchers involved to both see the enthusiasm for their work and think about research in new ways through the conversations with visitors, including someone who’d had the very procedure being discussed just last year. 

The activities were led by Claudia D'Ettorre, Emmanouil Dimitrakakis and Lukas Lindenroth from the Surgical Robot Vision group and Elizabeth Carr, Richard Colchester, Eleanor Mackle and Sacha Noimark from the Interventional Devices team

Both teams are within the Wellcome / EPSRC Centre for Interventional and Surgical Sciences and were supported by Dan Taylor, the WEISS Public Engagement Manager.