On 15 February 2020 staff and students keen on microbiology and outreach braved the wind and rain to entertain and educate visitors to the Nottingham Festival of Science and Curiosity from 10 am to 4 pm in the Victoria Centre market area.
This year we were accompanied by "Geralt the Germophobe" our now 3-D body target for our activity on helpful and harmful bacteria. Visitors selected volunteer fluffy bacteria to throw at Geralt and then discovered what nice or nasty bacterium made its home in the location they had hit. After a brief explanation as to what the bacterium could do either for or against humankind each visitor received a "non top trump" card with the bacterium’s statistics and unique artwork, as well as a stylish networking sticker "Hallo my name is ...." emblazoned with the name of their newly adopted microbial friend.
There was then the opportunity to learn the importance of cleaning your teeth and not eating sweets before bed, as visitors could interact with our highly accurate biofilm model – carefully crafted from packing material and cheap hair gel. Having discovered that bacteria are much harder to remove from teeth when in a biofilm produced by conversion of sucrose to a sticky polymer, visitors were informed in breathless tones that during the night bacteria wee in your mouth while you sleep. Not at all traumatised by this they left, presumably to go buy some mouthwash and toothpaste. :-)
These activities were delivered by members of staff from the NTU microbiology team as well as NTU undergraduate students Frazer, Chloe, Sara and Ghazelle, who worked really hard and were brilliant through a long day, assisted by mini-microbiologists Holly from South Wolds Academy and Bethany from Crossdale Drive primary school.