What do a wasp, a brain and cancer treatment have in common? The stinger of course!

April 24, 2019

EDEN2020 went after-hours at the Natural History Museum in London in March with their “Marvellous Medical Monsters” pop-up science station

The teaser question was put to the wider public by the EDEN2020 team at the most recent Natural History Museum Lates (NHMLates) in March. In response, onlookers quickly turned to curious participants and dived-in to touch a gel model of a brain, looked to insects under a microscope, and asked our EDEN2020 researchers how indeed does a wasp’s stinger have anything to do with the brain!

Watch the video of the team’s experience.

Following on from the success of EDEN2020’s showcase at Imperial Lates: Wonder Women, EDEN2020 was chosen as one of only four pop-up science stations to participate in NHMLates on 29th March. NHMLates is a recent initiative by the Museum in which exhibitions, talks, science demos, and food and drinks are on offer after-hours on the last Friday of the month. It is a free event and welcomes all family and friends in this very sociable and laid-back exploration and celebration of science.

The March edition of Lates focussed on biomimetics – nature inspiring new technologies – so it was no surprise that EDEN2020’s development of a steerable catheter for neurosurgery as inspired by the wood wasp’s stinger, was one of the four chosen.

EDEN2020’s “Marvellous Medical Monsters” station was interactive and tactile. Children and adults looked through the microscope at a wasp’s stinger as they learnt all about wasps from Dr Gavin Broad (@BroadGavin); EDEN2020’s special guest and the Museum’s resident entomologist. They then watched on as our robotic engineers showed the project’s catheter prototypes and how they replicate the wasp’s 3-sectioned stinger design and movement. This was closely followed by viewing the miniature model of the Renishaw robotic system and where the catheter is implemented. The public then finally got their hands dirty and touched a life-size gel model of the human brain as the team’s engineers explained a bit more about how the catheter will move through the brain. The public got a real sense of the EDEN2020 project from its ideation phase right through to prototypes and impact.

To be chosen as one of the four pop-up science stations was a huge honour for the team and they had a terrific time engaging with over 1000 people coming to learn more about the project, interact with the displays and engage meaningfully with our researchers. This was a great event and the team look forward to the next one.

For more information on the Natural History Museum’s Lates, go to their website: http://www.nhm.ac.uk/events/lates.html