For three days, including a whole weekend, the Madlab was a hive of science related chaos and fun as people from all over the North West came together to take part in a series of workshops and events.
Kickstarting the madness at MadLab for the Manchester Science Festival 2012 was the Robot Hackday where burgeoning roboticists and engineers could put their skills to creating new robots out of disused toys, gizmos and mobile phones. The result was a multitude of spinning, singing, whizzing and flashing robots and some very excited potential evil geniuses!
Then came the Bacterial Painting workshop on Saturday the 3rd of November. Armed with a palette of carefully bred bacteria – many of which can be commonly found around the household, for those with an interest – participants were able to paint designs onto agar plates, inspired by the Living Art created by the likes of JoWonder who reproduced Millais’ ‘Ophelia’ using a bacterial medium.
It was great to see such a wide range of people taking part, using the event as an opportunity to learn about new art forms and microbiology as well as gaining some hands-on experience working in a laboratory-like setting (albeit with a distinctly DIY flavour). Over the next few days we’ll be checking up on our incubating paintings to see how they have transformed so watch this space!
First thing Sunday morning was the USB Microscope hacking workshop where participants were able to take USB webcams apart and transform them into USB microscopes. If successful, they were set to observing the micro world through their new hand made microscopes, including some hand reared, 100% organic MadLab daphnia.
The last event was the Bioluminescent Bacteria workshop during which bioluminescent bacteria were transferred from a series of dismembered fish and squid onto enriched agar plates, made by the participants themselves. We suspect it might be some time before the aroma of slightly decaying fish will be fully evacuated from the premises.
Thanks to everyone who took part and made the event possible. Special thanks to Rob Dillon from the University of Lancaster, who not only supplied us with some very bright Serratia marcescens but also a beautiful Bacterial art demo in the form of a butterfly and Brian Degger for enabling us to get some bioluminescent bacteria. Hope to see you again next year!