On 13th October, the Society for the Study of Childhood in the Past held a stall for the second year running at the Big Biology Day at Staffordshire University. This year, PhD students Esme Hookway (Staffordshire University) and Marion Shiner (University of Sheffield) ran activities on the theme of childhood development, created by Dr Kirsty Squires (Staffordshire University). The national annual event is organised by the Royal Society of Biology, to celebrate the life sciences and engage the public with hands-on events and activities delivered by a variety of organisations. The day was held in Staffordshire University’s Science Centre, with events and activities about all aspects of biology, including the ‘Great Biology Bake-Off’.
At the SSCIP stand, visitors to the event were able to examine a replica cranium, mandible, pelvis and femur of a five-year-old, an adolescent and an adult. These were used to illustrate human skeletal development, and the means by which osteologists are able to establish age-at-death for non-adults. People were interested to learn about aspects of skeletal development, such as epiphyseal fusion, of which they were not previously aware. Children enjoyed seeing how the pelvis and femur articulate, and holding the replica non-adult femur against their own thigh for comparison. People could also look at cutaway models that demonstrate the stages of dental eruption, along with a set each of deciduous and permanent teeth. Adults and children alike were fascinated to see the unerupted permanent teeth developing in the juvenile maxilla, and children enjoyed seeing a deciduous tooth and its permanent replacement side by side. We also talked to people about how the analysis of human remains can inform us about the lives of children in the past, discussing skeletal and dental markers such as cribra orbitalia and enamel hypoplasia. Approximately 500 people visited the event, an increase of nearly 50% on the previous year’s attendees, and high levels of interest in the SSCIP and the activities on the stand kept us busy all day!
The crowds visiting Big Biology Day
Marion Shiner (University of Sheffield) explaining dental eruption for visitors to the SSCIP stand
Esme Hookway and Marion Shiner
All photographs by Esme Hookway (University of Stafford)