ForskarFredag 2018

European Researchers’ Night is an annual event to celebrate science and research. On the last Friday of September, scientists in 27 countries across the continent participate in events that bring science to the general public. In Sweden the event is known as ForskarFredag and is coordinated by the non-profit organisation Vetenskap & Allmänhet. For the last two years ForskarFredag events in Stockholm have included a hands-on science fair at AlbaNova University Centre aimed at school children between the ages of 14 and 19. Here the pupils can meet scientists from a wide range of disciplines, try out fun experiments and learn more about both the science carried out in the Stockholm region and the life of a researcher. Vetenskap i Samhället was invited to bring our interactive brain fair to the event and we couldn’t resist the opportunity to join such an international event.


Vetenskap i Samhället volunteers braved the cold and rain to man 5 tents exploring different aspects of the brain.


  • Hjärnans utveckling: när börjar och slutar den? explored how the brain develops from early stages of embryonic development to adulthood. The children were encouraged to think about concepts of neuronal development with the aid of games focussing on how cells communicate with each other, differentiate into different cell type and how axons “know” where to grow and connect.


  • At Se hjärnan inifrån there was the opportunity to look at real human brain cells using a microscope satisfying our innate curiosity about what we are made of. Medically trained volunteers then discussed the types of cells visible and the roles of different brain structures .


  • Vill du bli en cyborg? examined how and why we are starting to mix our bodies and brains with technology and how this might advance in the future using hands-on demonstrations. The Mindflex Duel game used EEG (Electroencephalography) technology to control the movement of a small ball in a flow of air. Two people were given an EEG headband and the result was an intense competition to see who could concentrate “better” and move the ball to their goal. Others tried out the Human-Human interface which allowed one person to control the movement of another’s fingers just by tensing their own hand thanks to a combination of EMG (Electromyography) and TENS technology.


  • Hur skyddar man hjärnan? focussed on how the brain reacts to speed and motion, how physical impacts such as accidents affect it and how we can prevent brain trauma. Hands-on models demonstrated the consistency of the brain, its location within the skull and how these are affected by both movement and swelling. There were demonstrations of different helmet designs to protect the skull and brain and pupils were shown the current research of the group into this area.
  • Hur pålitliga är våra sinnen? had a range of demonstrations that explored five of our senses (vision, hearing, taste, odour and perception) and asked whether they have any limitations. The activities included smell and taste games and optical illusions. Visitors to the tent were also shown how we enjoy having our perceptions tricked in a mini magic show with a special scientific bent.


Vetenskap i Samhället’s volunteers at the event came from all over the world reflecting the international face of science in Stockholm. The Hur skyddar man hjärnan? tent was manned by researchers from the Neuronics group at KTH, the majority of the remaining volunteers were staff or students from Karolinska Institutet complemented by a small number of exceedingly enthusiastic volunteers based outside of Stockholm.


We look forward to bringing the brain fair back to ForskarFredag in 2019!



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