Communication is important in scientific research, not only for publications aimed at the science community, but also for the general public. The Ulijn group was recently awarded funding from the EPSRC, for a project called 'Pathways to Impact'.
Previous science communication within the group involved the 'Images of research' competition, the publication of short magazine articles and also social networking via Facebook and Twitter. The financial support enabled the group to explore communication further to engage with different audiences.
The group took part in the Strathclyde University Research Day (URD) 2013. This year the research day invited primary and secondary schools to participate. The Ulijn group visited a primary 6 class at a local school to communicate their research using 'The Science of Jelly' story.
Fun (and edible) experiments were performed with the class. The experiments involved adding different fruits to jelly to see their effect on how the jelly set. The class then used the information given to them and the results from the experiments to produce a research poster. Two winning posters from the class were chosen to enter the poster competition at the URD on the 7th June 2013.
On the day, three secondary and nine primary schools attended, who were given the opportunity to visit a number of 'Meet the Researcher' exhibits. The Ulijn group presented the area of 'Jelly science' at their stall which had a variety of interactive exhibits including molecular models and animations. Also on display at the stall was a short movie about the group's science communication with school pupils using 'The Science of Jelly'.
The stall then made its second appearance as part of the Glasgow Naturally event for the Glasgow Science Festival. The event was held over a weekend in Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. Over two days around 500 people visited the stall with a range of ages from toddlers up to pensioners. The group were able to explain their research using jelly as a fun and relevant example.
The group aims to continue communicating their research, to inspire future generations of scientists and inform the general public about the importance of gel science. Gel science plays a key role in future technological and biomedical applications.