In October 2016, Norwich hosted its first ever two-week long science festival. The event was a huge success and attracted an estimated 100,000 visitors. One weekend was dedicated to showcasing research from the Norwich Research Park, entitled ‘solving problems with science’ and the local OpenPlant team took the ‘Power of Plants’ stand that was originally designed and run at the Latitude Festival earlier in the year. We were joined for a day by Dr Katrin Geisler from the University of Cambridge to highlight the 'Power of Algae'.
In addition to this, we were joined by John Innes Centre scientist Roger Castells-Graells who brought his new project ‘VRICKS’ that was created at a recent OpenPlant Co-Lab interdisciplinary science design workshop. This extra activity fitted well alongside the hypertrans plant expression system game which used the example of making flu vaccines in plants. The concept of VRICKS is a resource for building 3D virus structures to explore the biology and the geometry of viral organisms. However, for the festival we wanted to draw on the strengths of people power to build a giant virus structure where everyone who visited the stand was able to make one piece!
Working together to plan and deliver at public events is a great team exercise for scientists to think about how best to translate their research using practical tasks and accessible dialogue. Taking time to explore your work with the public builds understanding and trust in the value of research and is particularly rewarding to do in your local city. We are very much looking forward to the 2017 Norwich Science Festival!