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Cracking the genetic code at the University of Aberdeen's May Festival 2018

"This was a fun way to interest children in scientific careers and a great opportunity to engage the public in science and highlight the role of genetic and genomic testing in the NHS in Scotland."

Christine Armstrong, Trainee Clinical Scientist, NHS Grampian

27th May 2018

Cracking the genetic code

Children and families enjoyed learning about how our genes affect our health at this year's University of Aberdeen May Festival.

Using a Lego BoxED Genomic Medicine Education© programme developed by the University of the West of England Bristol and Health Education England, children decoded instructions hidden within DNA and used these to build Lego pro-bots, illustrating the process of protein translation from genes. They also learned how changes in DNA sequence can alter protein function and lead to rare genetic conditions, and how whole genome sequencing technology can help to identify the parts of the genome involved in this.

Building Lego pro-bots, University of Aberdeen May fesival

Photo credit: Gordon Stables, University of Aberdeen

Children of all ages enjoyed building Lego pro-bots based on DNA sequence at the Hall of Mayhem as part of the 2018 University of Aberdeen May Festival

Schoolchildren decoding DNA, Aberdeen May Festival Schools Programme

Photo credit: Sarah Christie, University of Aberdeen

P6/7 school children from Aberdeen having fun decoding the secrets hidden in DNA as part of the 2018 May Festival Schools Programme

Clinical scientists from the SGP partnership's Genetics Laboratory in NHS Grampian delivered the sessions on “cracking the genetic code”. There were opportunities for the scientists to talk to local children as part of the Schools Programme, and there was also an open family event over the weekend as part of the Hall of Mayhem.

The children loved meeting “real scientists” and finding out about how rare genetic conditions might be better diagnosed and treated through studies like Scotland's Participation in the 100,000 Genomes Project.

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