Magnificent microbes 2012

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A “Magnificent Microbes” outreach event was held by the Division of Molecular Microbiology at the University of Dundee over the weekend of March 9th and 10th 2012 at the Dundee Science Centre. This was funded by several sources including a grant from the British Mycological Society. The day involved the use of fun and interesting activities to make children and adults alike aware of the fascination of microbes such as fungi and bacteria. Activity stands included the isolation of fungi from soil; the role that fungi may play in cleaning up polluted soils; the ways in which fungi, including yeast, help in the food and drink industry; a rather noisy activity involving balloons to show why a cell wall is needed; an activity designed to highlight how microbes can be used to understand how physiological processes go wrong in plants and animals; and a stand with a squishy cucumber, biological washing powder and an enzyme assay to demonstrate how plants can be infected by fungi and bacteria.

Approximately 180 primary school pupils attended the first day of the event. The feedback received from both teachers and children indicated that fun was had: "cool", "yuck" and "wow" were heard. The following day was open to members of the general public with around 600 members of the public attending including both family and adult only groups. It was a very busy but pleasant day and people who attended seemed to thoroughly enjoy themselves and learn a lot.