London International Youth Science Forum (LIYSF) Workshop
On Friday 28th July, talented young scientists from all over the world, taking part in the annual two-week LIYSF event, visited UCL to learn more about science research and its applications. The team at MetaboLight hosted a workshop for 30 Year 12 pupils to show them the research we are doing and how simple principles they have learnt in their science lessons can be expanded to our work.
The workshop began with an introduction to the brain, before demonstrating how we can harness the different properties of light to interrogate biological tissue and how the light coming back can be used to obtain information about oxygenation and metabolism in the brain. This all lead to guiding the students to building their own near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) machine and the culmination of the workshop was in a functional brain experiment. We used one of our commercial NIRS systems to monitor the frontal lobe of one volunteer – and as they performed a maths task, we could see a clear increase in brain activity! Success!
We thoroughly enjoyed sharing our work with an excited young audience and wish them the best for the remainder of their program!
IoP Teacher Conference
This year’s annual Institute of Physics Teacher Conference took place at UCL, and our team at Metabolight were keen to get involved! We held a workshop for the teachers to share our work and help relate real-world research back to the classrooms.
We started the workshop introducing the basic principles of white light, before imaginative use of gummy bears and different coloured ‘finger LEDs’ helped to demonstrate concepts such as absorption and reflection. Next, we got interactive! We asked the teachers to get out their smart phones and shine the white light from their camera flash through the tip of their finger, to demonstrate how red and near-infrared light can travel through tissue (including bone). Finally, we introduced the pulse oximeter, a medical device which utilises the same concepts we use in our research. We concluded with some examples of the optical systems we are building in our team and how these are being used in the hospital to monitor brain-injured babies.
It was a great experience sharing our work with such an engaging audience, and we hope to get involved with more of these workshops in the future.
Wednesday 12 July saw the much-awaited launch of our public engagement project, MetaboLight. We were very excited to finally introduce this collaboration between scientists from UCL and doctors from UCLH to the public.
The evening kicked off at 1700 with some welcome drinks and the unveiling of our interactive exhibit (see picture), which will be rolled out at science festivals in the future. We then presented our branding and website design, before the premier screening of our short film explaining what our research is all about.
We really enjoyed the evening and received some great feedback to help us continue developing and expanding our project. We are now very keen for the next steps of our Metabolight journey – watch this space!
SMASHfestUK Festival visit
On 17 February we visited SMASHfestUK, a Science, Engineering and Arts Festival in Deptford, London. The aim was to explore a local science festival to help prepare for our public engagement activities and be inspired!
Located in the nearby area of Deptford, only a stone’s throw away from UCL, we set off to discover the wonders (and horrors) of the supervolcano that was about to erupt at the festival. From volcanic rocks to survival tactics and navigating robots, all aspects of natural disaster were investigated.
It was a fun field trip, with some great interactive exhibitions and thought-provoking activities. It has certainly given us plenty of ideas for our future engagements!
UCL Launch – 17 January 2017
On Tuesday 17 January we presented our new design and website to scientists, engineers, doctors and public engagement experts at UCL. We shared our goal for the project as being to create activities that will raise awareness, engage, share, expose and explore:
- the science of Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering
- how we can ‘engineer’ light to monitor the brain
- our stories of engineering and physics challenges
- how our technologies can inform clinical decision and improve patient care
We discussed future plans for the project including: the new website, some educational short films, state of the art demonstration kits and an interactive booth for science festivals. We got some great feedback from UCL and we’re excited for a full launch, coming soon…