I am a parent who studied science at university, and I want my children to have the same sort of opportunities I did. I do not think science at school is particularly exciting so I look out for interesting opportunities in the community to come and see real scientists at work.
I am volunteering here at the Oxford opened doors at the DNA bracelet stall. Our project at that table is to kind of explain what DNA is and to kind of give a visual representation of it in the form of very stylish pieces made of beads, as you can see here. It is a really good way of explaining kind of the basis of all living things and it's something that's kind of essential.
For the general public, this is important because they're asked day on day to donate to charities, and they have an absolute right to see how this money is spent, and to see what's discovered, and we definitely must be doing these sorts of functions.
We were just looking for some way to bring some very small children to keep them entertained; some of it will be interesting for us as well. They were very interested in the bug making area with the pipe cleaners and we got them doing the DNA beads for a while and they even sat still during the lecture, mostly kept quiet so although there must have been something there that caught their attention for a while.
I think it is important to advertise what we are doing to talk about our work within the Jenner Institute and we are trying to develop vaccines for a number of different diseases within the institute. It is important to get that out there into the public to educate people, especially educating children, which is a lot of what we are doing today. It's fun things for children that are making mosquitoes and things like that, because they've all been through the vaccination schedule on getting vaccinated and it's important to make them aware of why we're doing this, just so that they have more awareness on what the scientists are actually doing.
It was really fascinating to see all the instruments and everything else but I haven't really talked about it with my son to any great degree.
We are still at the end of the outbreak, when we're starting the trials we really need to push it forward still, by a few weeks.
I think this is really good for all ages, especially A-levels. I think that is the stage where students are having to decide what they want to do, and I think science is quite a scary thing to get into and maybe if they didn't like their science classes, that can really put people off. I think it's really important to kind of show the fun side of it and the career progression and when I was at that age, it was events like this and kind of getting exposed to actual researchers that kind of got me excited about choosing that path of deciding to go into biology or biochemistry at that age. I think you need that encouragement because a lot of people are put off by how hard science is and it is hard to do but I think it's really rewarding.
Yes, I learned about HIV from a really interesting game about how HIV constantly mutates, and how the researchers here are trying to constantly stay one step ahead of that. I also learned more about DNA from making the bracelet. The talk about Ebola was really interesting because of course that's been on the news a lot lately, and it's just interesting to see people actually doing the work, rather than just hearing the sensational news reports about how it's all you know, the end of the world's coming. It’s good to know that people are out there doing research. It does have a lot of activities here that are child-oriented, but I think it also helps adults learn. I mean, who doesn't like playing with Lego and all sorts of toys from your childhood that help you learn if you don't know much about science more than what you learned in high school so I think it's targeted at the kids but really, the adults like it. I know I like it a lot too.