An evening at the London Natural History Museum

Last Friday, along with several other Zooniverse projects, BashTheBug was invited to the monthly Lates event of the Natural History Museum in London as part of a pop-up exhibition organised by ConSciCom.

The evening was scheduled to begin at 6pm and run until 9.30pm, but people started talking to us from around 5.30pm as we were setting up our table. We were very busy all evening which was great: all three of us talked for 4 hours non-stop and gave out a lot of stickers. We encouraged people to have a go at BashTheBug on an iPad, this being the easiest way to understand what the project is all about. People were interested in Tuberculosis and some were surprised it still killed so many people worldwide. Antibiotic resistance has been on the news in the UK a lot recently and most people knew and accepted the fact that antibiotics were getting less effective. Many people asked about the BCG vaccine as they were old enough to, like me, have had one at school when a teenager and were surprised to find it has variable effectiveness.

Repeatedly explaining why we are doing the project and then watching people study one of the images showed how much this Zooniverse project is really a kind of personality test. When it is a difficult image, with very small dots in some of the wells, some people will err on the side of caution and always classify the dots as growth, regardless of how small they are, whilst others will say the dots are so small they can be discounted. Hence, as long as we show the images to a random selection of “enough” people we should get an extremely consistent dataset, which is exactly what we need.

Overall, a good evening, and we rarely get to meet any of the other Zooniverse projects so it was great to say hi to Etch a Cell , who are another biomedical project. Thanks to Dona and Jessica Foster for coming and helping!

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