At the end of September, LifeLab brought a range of events and hands-on science activities to the East Anglian cities of Cambridge, Peterborough and Ely for 24 hours of science discovery in places where people might least expect it.
In total over 3,500 people enjoyed LifeLab events, which involved 210 researchers from across these Cambridge institutions.
This was the second year that LifeLab took over public spaces in Cambridgeshire to delivery a programme of mostly free events, games and activities with an aim of sharing the excitement of scientific discovery and stories from the people behind the science.
Part of a pan-European event, European Researchers Night, LifeLab was coordinated by Wellcome Genome Campus Public Engagement, alongside five of the region’s leading life science research organisations: the Wellcome Sanger Institute, the European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI), Babraham Institute, the University of Cambridge and the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology.
“ Thanks for doing this, it makes all the difference. So inspirational!
“ It’s wonderful to have events like this here in Ely rather than having to go all the way to Cambridge.
The biggest crowds were in Ely, where over 1,000 people visited events at the Cathedral, enjoying hands-on activities ranging from an escape room to programming robots, as well as short talks, an exhibition looking at the people behind the science, and a schools poster competition.
In Peterborough and Cambridge, the largest events were held at the Queensgate and Grafton shopping centres, where shoppers chatted with scientists and used lab equipment to extract DNA from strawberries and discover microscopic worms.
“ The scientists here really know their stuff. They are passionate and very inspiring for young people.
Events were also held with local partners such as the Cambridge Science Centre, as well as in pubs, cafés and theatres.
“ It’s been great to be able to have long conversations with the scientists here, I’ve found out some really interesting things.
LifeLab set out to reach people who might not usually otherwise engage with science and feedback from visitors to the larger Saturday events revealed it was the first ever science festival event for a significant percentage. 37% at Peterborough’s Queensgate shopping centre, 41% at Cambridge’s Grafton Centre, and 45% at the Ely marquee said it was their first time engaging in these sorts of activities.
Happily, over 77% of respondents said they learned something new and deemed over 88% events to be good or very good.