Following on Canadian Society for Immunology’s (CSI) promotion of Day of Immunology and the activities in Toronto, Montreal and elsewhere, we held the first ever Day of Immunology outreach in Vancouver. The Infection, Inflammation and Immunity (I3) research group at UBC Life Sciences Institute had 22 faculty, staff, post doc and graduate student trainees go out to 4 elementary schools in Vancouver and North Vancouver April 30-May 1, 2012.
We spent an hour in each of several classes in each school, reaching ~290 students ranging from grade 2 to grade 7 with 15 minute talks on microbes and the immune system. We followed this with hands on workshops showing them hematopoietic cell colonies, bacterial colonies and viral plaque assays under microscopes. We illustrated how prevalent the microbial world was around them by helping them take sample swabs then finished by showing them how unwitting contact with “GloGerm”, a harmless, invisible fluorescent teaching aid, can spread from surface to their hands. We left them information postcards we designed that had intriguing immune facts and weblinks to useful sites including CSI and EFIS’s web exhibits. We sought this age group which is the target vaccination age and took the opportunity to illustrate the immune system has memory and that vaccines enhance immune responses. We had numerous queries and compliments from students, teachers and parents after the fact and are happy the first event here was so successful. We plan to continue these activities in coming years.