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Take part in our festive Tree of Life

1 Dec, 2011

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Calling all who enjoyed playing with plasticine as a child! We’re hoping this is a chance for you to rediscover your childhood, and we are providing the materials and opportunity to showcase your talents!

In the run-up to this festive time of year we’re creating an alternative festive tree covered with decorations on a scientific theme. We’re putting together festive packs containing a spectrum of fluorescent modelling materials and sparkly threads. From these packs you can fashion your own decorations and hang them on your own tree at home.

Use your imagination and try mixing and experimenting with colours to build up patterns, spikes and swirls. Maybe you’ve always wanted to make festive bacteria, a seasonal virus or a decorative neuron – the more imaginative the better!

This year we’re gauging interest in this idea, so we only have 40 packs available on a first-come-first serve basis.  The kits allow you to make around five decorations.  Staff at the Francis Crick Institute and the Wellcome Trust, and local communities will also be taking part, adorning a ‘tree of life’ in the Wellcome Trust building.

But wait!  Because we really want to see everyone’s creations we’re asking participants to upload photos to our collection of science-based decorations on Flickr.  We’ll also be giving away a prize for the most imaginative and beautiful creation.

Here’s a little demo video to help get you started, and if you need further inspiration take a look at our selection of images which happen to look festive.

We can’t wait to see what you’ll come up with!

This project is a collaboration with Dr Lizzie Burns, a science-based artist and visiting academic in the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics in the University of Oxford.  Visit for more information about her artwork and workshops.

UPDATE: There’s been an enormous demand for our festive packs and sadly we’ve run out – apologies if you missed out. To those of you who received them, we’re all really excited to see what you make! Don’t forget to share pictures of your creations to the Flickr pool, and if you see/make any other sciencey decorations not involving our packs, feel free to add those too!

6 Comments leave one →
  1. 3 Dec, 2011 2:18 pm

    We just received one of the packs of modelling material – is it air drying or do we have to do something to harden it?

    We’re really looking forward to making some decorations! =D

    • 3 Dec, 2011 6:48 pm

      They’re air-drying so just leave for an hour or so and it’ll harden. Have fun!

  2. 4 Dec, 2011 7:05 pm

    What a great idea! Can’t wait to see some of the bio-inspired decorations once the photos come in. Why settle for the same old red baubles and tinsel from poundland, when you can have microbes and neurons instead? I wonder if it would work well as a fun way to do science in schools, or as an alternative Christmas tree in galleries and museums? Or even Trafalgar Square ?!!


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