This year, we showcased the best in science, engineering and materials
to children from St Joseph’s in the Park (age 10). The children met our
star scientists from the Institute of Bioengineering who explained about
the mechanics of cells and why it is important to stretch cells and
tissues. The children took part in hands on investigative experiments
and made biomaterials out of seaweed that could be used to grow
chondrocytes. The children squashed cartilage and investigated why
exercise helps to keep the tissues strong and healthy. These cutting
edge techniques are the future of research at the Institute of
Bioengineering and are used in the real bioengineering world.
The IOB scientists explained new ideas about how bioengineering could
change the future in medical healthcare. For example, David Barrett
discussed why it is important to stretch cells in the amniotic membrane.
He explained that “stretching” or exercise helps to keep the tissue
strong as the baby grows inside the mother’s womb.
The children described the bioengineering experience as “awesome” with comments such as:
“Tendons are really fun to pull and test”.
“I was excited to see a dissection of a cow’s knee and squash cartilage”.
“I made strings out of seaweed”.
“I pulled a horses tendon today!”
“I made pink beans”.
And the surprise “I stretched a babies amniotic membrane”.
When the children were asked to comment on what type of person could
be a bioengineer, one child said “you don’t have to come from a rich
background to follow your dreams. A scientist can be anyone who is
prepared to work hard and have fun!”
Another child said “the bioengineering experience has made me think about what I want to be when I get older”.
Dr Alvaro Mata (IOB Director) described the bioengineering experience
as “spectacular” and said “the bioengineering experience is an unique
opportunity for the scientists to share their experiences, and for the
children to ask the scientists questions about their work. The event
allows the children to see the science behind cutting edge techniques
that could revolutionalise medical healthcare in the near future”.
Prof Pankaj Vadgama (IRC Director) highlighted the importance of
scientists and engineers working closely together with professionals
from different disciplines and described how Queen Mary’s research may
change the future.
Prof Peter McOwan who is Vice Principal for Public Engagement and
Student Enterprise said “This is a great example of how cutting edge
research has the power to fascinate and inspire the minds of the next
generation. Events like the BioEngineering Experience show that
scientist have exciting jobs and are all kinds of people, an insight
which we hope will help more people chose these important careers.”