Centre for Inflammation Research

CIR researcher teams up with the Science Ceilidh

April 2018: PhD student Francesco Vacca helps explain scientific concepts using traditional Scottish ceilidh dancing!

The Science Ceilidh is an award-winning educational project, led by director Lewis Hou. Using a team of experienced educators, scientists, musicians and folk dancers, the Science Ceilidh Band works with communities, schools and  festivals to explore scientific concepts and questions through the media of dance, poetry, storytelling, and music.

Science topics – from photosynthesis to star formation – are broken down into their core concepts, and the well-known steps of the ceilidh dance subsequently used to represent each one.

PhD student Francesco Vacca, who works on allergy-induced asthma at the MRC Centre for Inflammation Research under the guidance of Dr Henry McSorley, has been working with the Science Ceilidh Band to help them create a new dance to explain how white blood cells recognise pathogens and how they fight them. After meeting Lewis at the Centre to discuss ideas, Francesco was invited along to the filming session in a local community hall the following weekend.

Francesco says:

The event was organised to recruit both scientists and non-scientists to dance a ceilidh-style representation of biology/immunology concepts. We also took part in a second dance, which focused more on molecular biology to explain mitosis and DNA replication. When editied, they will form part of a resource pack that will be available on the Science Ceilidh website and used to promote science – in particulary, biology – in schools.


A group of ceilidh dancers in a local community hall, posing with the ceilidh band in the background.
The Science Ceilidh band, with the team of volunteer dancers.



Dr Henry McSorley (and lab) research profile

Science Ceilidh (external website)

Lewis Hou (external website)