Digesting Science

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Digesting Science is an award-winning set of educational activities, teaching families about the science behind MS through a practical and enjoyable event.

Digesting Science was developed by Alison Thomson and the Barts-MS team. It is an approach to talking about science in engaging, fun and creative ways. It was created in 2012 after Alison met MS researchers. Alison is a designer and when the research into MS was being explained to her she found it difficult to understand. In order to overcome this, she asked the scientists to use Plasticine and other physical tools to create models of their work. She used these to help her understand how cells function, what the body does and scientific ideas.

They realised that this approach could be an effective way to teach children about the science behind MS and could support parents to discuss their MS with their children.

From here the Digesting Science activities and event format was developed, with the expert input of Harriet Smith (a drama teacher) and families affected by MS to ensure that the information and activities were both relevant and enjoyable. We realised that talking about MS at home can be daunting both for the parent and the child, so we wanted to ensure that people could learn about the science in small
‘digestible’ chunks of information, that they can go through in their own time.

Digesting Science is an event where between four and six families come together at the same time. This works for a number of reasons. It means that you can get a group of people together to make efficient use of the organisers’ time, but more importantly it gives people — both adults and children — an opportunity to meet others in the same situation as them. Although people are not directly asked to meet and talk to others (apart from briefly in the warm-up activity) we’ve found that people naturally get chatting and this can be very beneficial for the adults and children alike.

If you are a health care professional, Digesting Science events are a great opportunity to meet your patients and their families in a relaxed environment. If you want to run an event and you are not based within the health service you can still run a Digesting Science event. We recommend that you get in touch with a local service, hospital or charity branch as the events are great opportunities to collaborate and strengthen links between groups.

Running a Digesting Science event

Anyone can run a Digesting Science event. To do so, you just need to:

  1. Find a suitable venue
  2. Secure a date for your event
  3. Contact the Digesting Science team and check we have a kit available for that date

You’ll receive a manual in the post, and full support from the team if you have any questions about running the event. You’ll also get invitations to send to your families and posters to advertise your event.

You’ll receive the kit a few days before your event, so you’ll have enough time to go through it with your volunteers.

It is free to use and if you can’t cover the postage then we can pay for that too. The kit contains absolutely everything you need to run an event, including speakers for music and decorations for the venue.

Some feedback from families who have attended a Digesting Science event

“Just wanted to say another big thank you for an amazing Digesting Science event. J. is still talking about it, he keeps reassuring me that he knows all about MS now and if I have any questions I can ask him! He also made friends and it’s something I never thought would happen but I have made a friend through him and swapped numbers with another mum who has MS which is a really big step for me personally.”
 
“It is a very informative, interactive set of activities for the whole family to engage in. It really does help parents living with MS to open up the subject and conversation to their children, and in fact the rest of the family. “
 
“We had the MS nurse come, and the day was complete with a fantastic venue, and they were also extremely generous! Thank you once again, the parents loved the kit, and so did the young carers and staff!”
Digesting Science was originally funded by the Centre for Public Engagement at Queen Mary University and has received further funding from Genzyme Sanofi.
Book your kit by emailing events@digestingscience.co.uk.
Like Digesting Science on Facebook.
Follow Digesting Science on Twitter and Instagram.

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