Friday, 30 September 2016

SITraN goes to a festival!

SITraN goes to a festival!

This September, the University of Sheffield successfully hosted its unique ‘Festival of the Mind’ for the third time since 2012.  Forged in collaboration with Sheffield’s creative and cultural communities, the festival comprises a whole host of events that serve to showcase and celebrate the inspiring research taking place within our University.  Over 11 days, visitors came to venues across the city centre to witness a huge range of research topics being brought to life in the form of art installations, captivating lectures, interactive exhibitions, and much more!

Never being ones to pass up an opportunity to engage the public with the exciting research that we do here at SITraN, a group of staff and students from the department decided to get involved!  Armed with our (very fashionable!) brain T-shirts, we headed down to the Moor Market in Sheffield city centre on Saturday 24th September to deliver lots of fun, neuroscience-themed activities to members of the public.

Over the course of the day, people of all ages visited our stall, where they were able to chat to researchers and discover fascinating facts about the ‘Amazing Brain’.  There were opportunities to look at real-life brains from different animals and learn what makes us as humans more intelligent than mice or birds; people were able to examine slices of brains under the microscope and find out about the important roles of the neurons and other cells that make up our brains; and we got busy with scissors and sellotape, building paper “brain hats” to illustrate the different parts of the brain and the processes that they control in our bodies.

Visitors also had the chance to put their neurons to the test, assessing their reactions and reflexes by trying to catch a falling ruler as quickly as possible, and by trying not to blink whilst wearing lab goggles and having cotton wool balls thrown at their faces (a lot trickier than it sounds!).  Our “mitochondria station” was also a hit: we used electronic circuits to demonstrate how the complex processes that take place in our mitochondria (the tiny, energy-producing powerhouses inside our cells) can become faulty in neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinsons’s disease, and explained how scientists are researching potential treatments for these illnesses by trying to identify and fix these faults.

A fun day was had by all, and it was extremely rewarding and encouraging to see lots of people in Sheffield being inspired by the world of neuroscience research!

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