The Big Bang fair south east came to St Joseph’s in the Park with an exciting programme of workshops and hand-on activities for children age 10 to 11 years. Around 160 children from state and independent schools in Hertfordshire performed experiements where they learnt to be bioengineers, scientists, doctors and entrepreneurs with industry (GSK, Airbus), university (QMUL) and schools (Hailebury, St Edmund’s).
The children learnt why some mothers could not give birth to a baby at the right time and instead the babies were born too early making it difficult for the baby to breath and survive in the real world. To help keep the baby alive in the mother’s womb, the children designed a technology in bioengineering that could stop the fetal membranes from breaking too early and help save babies lives.
The children investigated how biomaterials such as seaweed could be used to fix the hole in the fetal membranes after the tissue was torn or broken due to infection or bleeding. The children designed materials that were sticky, similar to glues and adhesives and also tried to tape the hole with a tissue patch by combining stem cells and seaweed. One child used glues secreted by sea slugs to stick the hole together but realised that the tissue was no longer stretchy like a balloon and was too fragile.
The investigations in bioengineering, biomechanics and regenerative medicine are examples of the real-life technologies that have been used by doctors to plug, seal and repair the hole in fetal membranes. Clinical examples include the amniopatch which was used to treat pregnant women after iatrogenic PPROM.