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Issue 128 Summer 2018

Endocrinologist > Summer 2018 > Society News

A Big Bang in Birmingham! Time for endocrine inspiration

| Society News

Volunteers: Jasmine Johal, Lisa Shepherd and Lorna Gilligan (not pictured: Antonia Jurd, Angela Taylor). Society staff: Matt Grant.

Volunteers: Jasmine Johal, Lisa Shepherd and Lorna Gilligan (not pictured: Antonia Jurd, Angela Taylor). Society staff: Matt Grant.

Each year, thousands of schoolchildren and families flock to the Birmingham NEC for The Big Bang Fair to learn about all things ‘STEM’ (science, technology, engineering and maths).

This year’s event took place on 14–17 March 2018. Standing alongside other bioscience societies as part of the Biology Big Top (a public engagement collaboration of bioscience societies), Society members were on hand with vials of ‘blood’ to draw in the curious attendees and explain how hormones regulate blood sugar levels.

Student member Jasmine Johal took a break from writing her dissertation to participate in the event, and found the event very valuable: ‘It’s very different from anything I have ever done, but it was a really enjoyable experience.’ While dealing with almost 2,000 children across 2 days sounds intimidating, volunteers drawn from the Society’s membership handled the questioning crowds wonderfully. ‘I feel that the public thought the idea of them changing the “patient’s” blood glucose levels was exciting – so that is a really good concept,’ commented Jasmine.

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Playing the role of the pancreas, the children had to test the glucose levels of samples and return them to the normal range using glucagon or insulin solutions. In truth, the whole set up may merely have been water, food colouring and dextrose at varying dilutions, but the simple demonstration opened the door to understanding an important body function. With many of the children having relatives or classmates with diabetes, the real world relevance of the activity came to the fore.

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Showcasing the interdisciplinary nature of the biosciences, longstanding collaborators and fellow Biology Big Top members were also involved. In addition to the blood glucose activity, the Biochemical Society came prepared with an activity focusing on gene editing, the British Pharmacological Society taught attendees how medicine is made, and the Genetics Society showcased the wonders of the human chromosome. With lots of interest in each activity, hopefully some of the children will have found the spark to cause a ‘big bang’ in the world of biology!



Do you have a great idea to engage non-specialists with hormones and the impact of endocrinology? Apply for a Public Engagement Grant of up to £1,000 before 26 September 2018. Visit for more information.

Visit for free guides and templates to help you plan and deliver your outreach activities more effectively.

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