What happens when we eat – IFR explains at the Big Bang Fair

28th May 2014

IFR’s stand at this year’s Big Bang Science Fair was themed around the ‘Incredible Journey’ food takes through your body. In this video, produced by IET.TV and the IET, IFR’s Joanne Doleman explains what happens when we eat.


The IFR stand ran a range of activities and information sheets drawn from across IFR’s research, with the main attraction being the inflatable colon supplied by the Bowel Cancer Screening Service. People queued to get in and while queuing we discussed how food is digested and where, the contents of full, low & ultra-low fat mayo and sources of vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbs, fats and phytochemicals.

On the way out videos of a pillcam travelling through the gut and MRI scans of food in the stomach kept the adults entertained while their children took apart and rebuilt the TSN torso to discover which bits of the gut go where. Moving on visitors could then find out the safest way to stock their fridges, read wanted posters on our favourite bugs, or blast a biofilm.

“As ever the Big Bang Science fair was Big, Busy and Loud!” said Dr Joanne Doleman. “I arrived at the IFR stand and was immediately thrown into discussions with children, students, parents and teachers alike. Everyone was interested in the range of information on the stand.”

“I spent most of my time discussing the digestive tract,” said Joanne. “The model in which the various organs of the body could be removed was a huge hit with everyone feeling very pleased with themselves if they named all the organs correctly, and got them back in the right order. Having the worksheets to compliment the messages on the stand was fantastic. I had lots of very positive feedback from parents and teachers wanting not only to take multiple copies of the worksheets to do once they were back to school and home but to be contacted by the IFR after the event.”

“Spending a large portion of the morning in an inflatable walk through colon will not be something I forget in a hurry! But it sparked a great range of interest, from youngsters who were very amused that they were going to ‘come out its bottom’ through to genuine fascination from adults as to all the things that can be going wrong. Communicating the message in an informative but non-frightening way was paramount.”

“All in all Big Bang was exhausting and hugely rewarding. Inspiring children to think about their bodies, their diet and health was superb. Seeing interest and enthusiasm on faces makes it all worthwhile.”