Science -- Your Future, Scotland's Future
SCI-FUN at the
Science Festival 2005
SCI-FUN and the Battle of the Sexes!
With our partners, the MRC HRSU, we took over the entire Hawthornden Court area of the new Musem of Scotland, as can be seen in the vertical panorama, taken during one of the quieter moments.

The UK Medical Research Council (MRC) promotes research into all areas of medical and related science with the aims of improving the health and quality of life of the UK public. The MRC Human Reproductive Sciences Unit is the leading institution undertaking research in reproductive health in the UK with integrated programmes on male and female infertility, contraception and hormone dependent diseases (such as prostatic, testicular and cervical cancer, and endometriosis).

Studies are undertaken at molecular, cellular, physiological and clinical levels to further the understanding of the regulation of the human reproductive system in health and disease, with particular attention to mechanisms that might be exploited for improved reproductive health.

Scientists and students at the Human Reproductive Sciences Unit teamed up with SCI-FUN to showcase the unit’s work at the Edinburgh Science Festival. The HRSU combined their own research interests with SCI-FUN’s experience of bringing science to life for schoolchildren. The event encompassed a range of shows and hands-on activities that are representative of the research interests of the unit, along with an entertaining exploration into the differences between the sexes. In particular, the following three experimental areas were available, with quizzes, computer programs, videos and hands-on microscopy:

1) What a difference a Y makes!

Exploring the differences between boys and girls at the chromosome level, and how these differences lead to the expression of different genes, and in the development of male and female bodies.

2) Shaping our bodies – hormones make it happen

This section followed a timeline through the development process of boys and girls as hormones programme their bodies, and explored the differences between males and females.

3) The contraceptive challenge – One egg but many sperm

The third area discussed the differences in methods of contraception for women and men (and why it has been easier to develop methods for the former), and described current research being carried out at the unit into better and more effective methods for both sexes.

The Batak reaction timer made its debut, and attracted considerable interest. We'll be using the machine at a variety of events, next year.

Particle Physics on your Desktop
The PP4SS project had the opportunity to showcase some of its preliminary exhibits, as part of the festival's Science Zone, run as a collaboration between the museum and the University. A team of physics graduates, postgraduates and real particle physicists
DNA and Genetics Workshops
1) Pink or blue? Gender, genes and cues

Until the 16th century, scientists believed that women were poorly developed men... Five centuries later, the Science Festival saw the introduction of a new SCI-FUN workshop aimed at teenagers and adults, and delivered a more updated version of the story. Handling chromosomes themselves, the participants were faced with the task of making baby boys and baby girls.

This workshop took them behind the scenes, through the challenges, tricks and surprises held by our genes, boys and girls alike!

2) DNA Workshop

Participants tried their hand at making a strand of DNA from its constituent parts, learning how the molecule is put together, and how it can then be used to control the building of proteins, which make up most of the structure (and carry out most of the tasks) in your body.

The [new] Science in Sport
This was a combined and extended version of the 2004/5 SCI-FUN shows.