WEGMC BoxED kits at Bath Taps into Science this weekend

CaptureThe West of England NHS Genomic Medicine Centre (WEGMC) and the University of the West of England (UWE) have partnered to develop a fun outreach activity on genomics for schools in the Bristol, Bath, Somerset and South Gloucestershire area.

The activity will also be available for pupils attending the Schools Science Fair at this year’s Bath Taps into Science festival on Friday, 17 March. People attending the award-winning event, organised by the University of Bath, on Saturday, 18 March will also have the chance to learn about genomics at the Family Science Fair.

Delivered as a BoxED (‘Education in a box’), the aim of the activity is to help people understand the purpose of the NHS 100,000 Genomes Project, which is a ground-breaking initiative, launched by David Cameron, the Prime Minister in 2012. The project involves collecting and ‘decoding’ 100,000 human genomes, which are complete sets of people’s DNA, in the hope that new and more precise diagnostic tests and personalised treatments could be developed in the future.

The BoxED activities give users the chance to learn about human genetic coding by building ‘pro-bots’ out of Lego after deciphering the genetic code puzzle. The resulting ‘pro-bots’ can be very different from each other depending on the puzzle and change in code that’s included in each activity.

Professor Aniko Varadi, from the Faculty of Health and Applied Sciences at UWE and Workforce Development Co-Lead for WEGMC said: “Our faculty developed BoxED to increase outreach and participation in schools based on the research activities of our staff. The 100,000 Genomes BoxED focuses on the impact that even a very small change in our genetic code can have on our health. It’s also great to see that there are opportunities like Bath Taps into Science where we can give people the chance to learn about genomics in a fun and interactive way.”

Festival project manager Andrew Ross, from the University of Bath Widening Participation Office, said: “The philosophy behind Bath Taps into Science is simple: everyone can enjoy, and engage with science if it is presented in a fun, engaging and hands-on manner.”