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Public Engagement

2 researchers laughing at a stall at the 2019 Open Doors event

Data games 

One area of activity has been to develop children’s knowledge of the world of data. The challenge was for highly specialised scientists to explain their work in a way that primary-school aged children would understand and find fun. 

Bring on the Data Games! In four table-based activities set in a LEGO factory scenario players compare different methods of moving LEGO bricks, build towers and create bar charts while learning the difference between qualitative and quantitative data, what meta-analysis is, and why it is useful.  

Children and parents played the Data Games at the IF Oxford Science and Ideas Festival and Oxford Open Doors events in 2019 and at the Oxford Maths Festival in 2020, when the team spent a day at Pegasus Primary School with children in years 4 and 5. 

The games were created by members of the Vascular Overviews Group, part of the MRC Population Health Research Unit's Vascular Meta-analyses Programme.

A researcher talking to a young boy at the 2019 Open doors event

Small boy doing an activity at the 2019 Open Doors event.

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The annual Oxford Open Doors event sees many buildings in the city open their doors to the public. In September 2019, 240 members of the public visited the Big Data Institute/Nuffield Department of Population Health Building which houses some MRC PHRU staff, to enjoy a day of science exploration and engagement.

Through hands-on activities with staff from the Wolfson Laboratory members of the public learned about the components of blood, how samples are processed and how a lab test is carried out. Visitors also participated in talks about big data.