Nicole Pacchiarini on Soapbox Science

Nicole Pacchiarini recently took part in Soapbox Science to talk to the general public about synaptic plasticity

Soapbox Science takes place at a number of sites across the UK and features women scientists. A soapbox is used as a platform for female scientists to talk about their research to the general public.

Nicole Pacchiarini’s account of the day: My aim for the day was to talk to the general public about synaptic plasticity (the ability of synapses to strengthen or weaken over time, in response to increases or decreases in their activity). This is not a well know concept and especially difficult to explain to children. In order to do this I bought some pipe cleaners and asked the audience to make a web of connections between themselves – this was the neuronal network. I then passed a “message” in a Chinese whisper style along the network. When the message reached the end of the network it was shouted out loud and was always incorrect which led me to explain the idea of strengthening connections. This demonstration lasted a lot longer than I had planned as the public asked so many questions! They were a lot more engaged and intrigued than I was expecting and some families stayed and listened to my talk more than once which was a surprise. Although very nerve-racking I would 100% recommend this to young scientists as it really challenges you to explain complex concepts in simple ways (whilst battling with a busker blasting out “I will always love you”)!

You can view Nicole’s interview with Soapbox Science online: Online interview >>

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