Open doors: Institute hosts first family open day

 26 October 2018  

What is it like working at a research institute? What sorts of jobs are involved, who else works there and what experiences do you leave with on a daily basis?

On 23 October 2018 the Institute opened its doors, inviting friends and families of students and staff to its first ever family open day. The day involved a range of hands-on lab activities, lab tours and drop in workshops catering for all ages. 30 members of the Institute volunteered to help on the day, highlighting the work of our research groups and facilities. Around 50 visitors came to find out more about the research undertaken at the Institute and to try out the activities.

The event included practical workshops in the labs with visitors dressing up as scientists, extracting DNA from strawberries and creating rainbows in test tubes. There were tours of the Fly lab, Chromosome lab, MRI lab and Sequencing lab as well as 3D printing demonstrations and a Microscopy workshop. Visitors also got to see the plans for our new building and take part in research-based craft activities.

It was great to see everyone getting so involved with all the activities, especially the pipette tip speed challenge! Alexis Barr, Head of Cell Cycle Control was the clear winner, managing to stack 96 pipette tips in 1 minute 31 seconds.

Alexis Barr shared her thoughts,

“The day was fantastic. It had things to do for all ages, was super well organised and the activities were brilliant. We loved it and the kids loved it. When we got home my son was showing off to his friend all afternoon about what he’d been doing.”

Helena Cocheme, Head of Redox Metabolism, and Chair of the Athena SWAN Families Working Group shared her thoughts about the value of the event,

“Public engagement is an important aspect of our work, communicating the value of our research and encouraging the next generation of scientists. Engagement with our family and friends is even more rewarding, giving them an opportunity to experience our lives at the LMS, and understand where, how and why we spend our working days.

Thank you to everyone who participated! To the LMS for supporting us in holding its first ever Family Day, to the volunteers who helped plan and deliver such engaging tours and activities, and to all the institute members who invited their family and friends to visit.

The overwhelmingly positive feedback and wonderful snapshots from the day speak for themselves, capturing the enthusiasm and success of the event.”

Feedback is still being collated following the event, but a number of attendees shared how “impressed they were with the range of activities on offer”, younger visitors were excited to see “where mum/dad worked”, thought it “was fun and interesting, a rare opportunity” and enjoyed the “clear and interesting explanations from the scientists.” Others commented that the event was “welcoming to everyone” and that it was “very educational and inspiring for their children.” All those that have completed feedback forms indicated they would attend a similar event in the future.

About Family Day
Family day was organised by the Institute’s Athena SWAN Families Working Group along with a family day committee consisting of students and staff members from across the Institute. The Athena SWAN charter recognises advancement of gender equality: representation, progression and success for all. As an Institute we received silver Athena SWAN status in October 2017 and are working towards equality in science and success for all.