Edinburgh Infectious Diseases
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Public engagement with Edinburgh Infectious Diseases

Edinburgh Infectious Diseases researchers engage in dialogue to inform, enthuse and inspire our local communities.

Public Engagement with Edinburgh Infectious Diseases

The "Bugs and Bones" treasure chest is part of an on-going involvement Edinburgh Infectious Diseases has with Public Engagement.  We received an initial grant to develop an outreach project for nursery and school aged children using the Ashworth Natural History Collection to explore the interaction between pathogens and hosts – the “bugs and bones” of the Collection. 

Over the past three years we have successfully delivered our "Bugs and Bones" workshops to 100s of primary school children aged between 7 and 10 in their classrooms, and have been delighted to receive very positive feedback from all the schools we visited.

Bugs and Bones

The concept behind the project was to use the  Ashworth Natural History Collection to develop interactive workshops for schools based on "Bugs and Bones". 

We wanted to use the wealth of parasites and pathogens (the bugs) in the collection alongside the wonderful vertebrate specimens (the bones) to help tell stories about infectious diseases;  what causes the diseases, what effects they have on the infected host, and how the host is able to fight back against the disease.

Ashworth Natural History Collection

One of the key aspects of this new project was the construction of a "treasure chest", which has allowed us to safely transport some of the more robust mammalian skeletal samples from the Ashworth Collection. 

We can now take "bones" from animals including camel, lion, polar bear, chimpanzee and horse, alongside vials containing "bugs" such as tsetse flies, flat worms, horse flies and mosquitoes. 

Having the box has meant that for the the first time we can take selected specimens out of the University and into schools and other venues, and let the children have the chance to have hands-on experience with the some of the wealth of science and history that the Ashworth Collection represents. 

Children exploring the Bugs and Bones

We can come and visit your school

Our worshops run for 45 min to an 1 h, and are suitable for children from P3 - P7. 

The children are divided into groups and then they rotate around different stations where they will have the opportunity to handle a variety of different animal skull and limb bones; investigate how animal skeletons are adapted to their function; examine different parasites under a microscope; and learn about how infections are spread from person to person.  There is no exact number for these workshops but they work best with group sizes of 15-25.

If you would like to host a workshop in your school please get in touch with Hilary Snaith, coordinator of Edinburgh Infectious Diseases

Email:  hilary.snaith@ed.ac.uk

Phone:  0131 651 3688