Hi all! I was wondering if you would like to share some of the science communication activities that you have been involved with, especially ones related to your research, so we can create a collection and a space for inspiration and ideas.
I will start off! I am a PhD candidate at the John Innes Centre in Norwich, in the UK. Our lab works on starch granule initiation, and my project focuses on the biochemical processes involved in starch granule initiation in Arabidopsis and wheat. Luckily, starch is a really fun topic for science communication, and we have organised stands at events like the Norwich Science Festival, where the public can walk around and visit different tables showcasing various topics. We usually have some demonstrations/hands on activities at our stands, and as many of the visitors are children they are usually tailored for this:
1) iodine staining game: we lay out a range of daily objects and ask participants to drop iodine on them to see if the objects contain starch – if they do, the objects will turn a dark purple colour. Some starch containing objects will include bread, packing peanuts, biodegradable bin bags/cutlery.
2) Home-made playdough/slime: using regular (corn)starch, we make can make our own playdough, and we dye it fun colours with food colouring. Then we use amylose-free starch (waxy starch), which has a more sticky texture, to make slime! Kids always love poking around with these.
3) Table-top microscopes with starch samples to look at: Different plants have starches with different shapes and sizes, for instance potato starch has very large starch granules and wheat starch as a combination of bigger and smaller granules, and we have participants look at these differences. We also sometimes show them scanning electron microscopy images which look really cool.
4) Of course oobleck (the stuff you get when mixing water and starch) is always great fun, and we sometimes have some on hand or just show a fun video like the ones where people put oobleck on speakers and watch it create cool shapes.
Would love to hear some of your ideas! 🙂