The Festival of Creative Learning 2018 ASCUS Wrap Up

The Festival of Creative Learning (FCL) is a year-long festival focusing on creative learning and innovation at The University of Edinburgh (UoE), culminating in a curated programme of events every February. We had the opportunity to open up the doors of ASCUS Lab again for this year’s FCL week where we had a variety of events and activities based on soil and microscopy.
Check out what we got up to below during FCL 2018!

ASCUS Lab at the Festival of Creative Learning 2018

Soil: Exploring Tiny Things

Our first workshop, Soil:Exploring Tiny Things, started the week off with a bang, with this sold out workshop giving everyone the chance to experience learning about the invisible microorganisms in the soil around us! The day started with an intro to the history of soil from our resident soil expert, Dr. Jiri Jirout, before we moved on to experimenting with soil from different areas of Edinburgh, such as the Meadows and Blackford Pond. After this we set about creating mini Winogradsky Columns (a self contained eco system and tool invented by microbiologist Sergei Winogradsky to study biogeochemical cycle of muddy soil) that people could take home with them! To bring things to a close everyone was able to produce their own mini eco system in a petri dish which we incubated in the lab over the last couple of weeks.

Winogradsky Columns
Mix for Winogradsky Column

Soil: What is Crawling Underneath

For the second of our soil events, Soil: What is Crawling Underneath, we welcomed a new set of participants, along with some familiar faces too, as everyone learned about soil structure and texture. After learning about it’s history we got hands-on performing experiments learning about the composition of this fascinating mixture of organic matter, minerals and organisms. We also got the chance to experiment, discovering the composition of our different soil samples by rolling our own mud balls and stretching them out we were able to deduce what type of soil we had, such as sand, silt, or clay. We then had the chance to extract and look at the tiny organisms that call soil their home by mounting these creatures on slides and using brightfield and darkfield microscopy to see them up close!

Centipide under the microscope
Springtail under the microscope

Window into the Earth

For the third and final event, Window into the Earth, we were delighted to be joined by Sam, a geology expert, visiting us from the School of GeoSciences at UoE. Sam brought along a variety of rock and crystal samples for everyone to examine and guided people through the process of how to tell where a rock sample originated from. Everyone then had the chance to create their own crystals from copper sulphate and watch them grow under a microscope!

Rock Fossil under the microscope
Rock Section under the microscope

Here’s how it went…

We had great fun at all the events and thank you all for joining us and sharing your feedback with us! We have selected a few of our best images from across the day but you can find even more over on our Facebook Page.

“I really enjoyed the mix of theory and practical and everyone was really lovely & knowledgable” – Attendee Feedback

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