Eskitis brings wonders of science to the Ekka

Students in the lab
Eskitis at the Ekka hopes to attract and excite the next generation of scientists

You’re never too young to start learning about the mysteries and marvels of science.

This is the message personnel from Griffith University’s world-leading Eskitis Institute for Drug Discovery will be repeating on Friday (August 8) when the Royal Queensland Show, better known as the Ekka, gets under way.

Eskitis at the Ekka is just one of the components of Explosive Science @ Ekka 2014, an exciting and collaborative event promoting science among the wider community.

Featuring top scientists and educators, science research facilities, demonstrations and activities, themes to be explored during this year’s Ekka include Human Body and Movement, Energy and Transport, Environment and Nature, Health and Medical Innovation and Innovation and Technology.

Griffith’s Eskitis team will be on hand on Friday and is keen to engage every age group, although there will be particular focus on the younger audience.

“We really want to open up children’s eyes to the wonders of science,” says Associate Professor Kathy Andrews.

“As research scientists, we have a mandate to communicate with the public, to share our ideas and goals and to explain the importance, the influence and sheer diversity of science as it affects our lives.

“However, we also want to share our enthusiasm for science and demonstrate just how much fun it can be. We want to excite the next generation of scientists.”

Manned by research students and staff whose work involves trying to discover and develop drugs for diseases such as malaria, cancer and Parkinson’s disease, the Eskitis at the Ekka exhibit will show how natural resources — tree bark, leaves, marine sponges, mushrooms and more — are often the starting point for scientific study.

Among the activities at Eskitis at the Ekka will be:

Colouring-in, word searches and crosswords;

Access to a microscope through which different cells can be viewed;

An activity using plasticine and straws to construct a molecular model of a drug such as aspirin;

Working with a pipette and coloured solution so patrons can prepare their own drug assay dilution series in plastic culture plates;

A drug discovery pipeline tracking the scientific journey from “the bush to the bottle”, beginning with taking samples from the natural environment and moving through experiments in the laboratory to culmination in pill form.

Patrons will also learn about the Sponsor a Sample program, which allows the public to play a part in important medical research by “adopting” samples stored in Eskitis’s Nature Bank facility.

To visit Eskitis at the Ekka, go to the Courier-Mail Learning Fun Pavilion.