the superbug bus

We are working with Commbus, from whom we will hire a double decker bus designed internally and externally to our specifications. This enables us to create an immersive, interactive public engagement experience that we can tour to our audience in schools and town centres.

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The inside top deck of a double decker bus will be refitted as a mock hospital ward; there will be four hospital beds and 12 chairs to allow 16 participants to be on the ward, 4 of them playing the role of patients and 12 playing the role of visitors. All of the participants will be given a Virtual Reality headset to wear. On putting the headset on the participant will find themselves in an augmented reality version of the hospital ward, before being transported up and out of the ward, to navigate through 3D VR environments where elements contributing to Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) can be identified.

This journey will include the hospital (healthcare transmission); home (food contamination); farms and cities (human and animal mis-use and over-use of antibiotics, and environmental contamination) and airports (international travel). Participants will observe the spread of infections across the globe, before zooming back down to the ward, entering the human body through an intravenous catheter that appears, virtually, in the arm of the patient. They will navigate through the body observing individual bacteria deciding whether or not to form biofilms. Audio narration and visual graphics will provide additional information about AMR and the research developing interventions to fight it.

A key visual reference for this piece of work is the Eames film Powers of Ten with its stunning depiction of a journey through different scales, from the planetary to the subcellular. However, while much of the imagery for their film relied on models and animation, we will be using a range of modern technologies that have been developed to accurately visualise each of the environments we are depicting. We will use satellite footage of the globe; LiDAR scans of a farm, city and hospital ward; photogrammetry of a human body; and CGi visualisations of 3d Microscopy images of bacteria interacting with antibiotics, host defences and implanted medical devices. This will enable us to visualise AMR in an innovative and engaging manner, making connections between the effect of actions on a global scale with outcomes on a microbial scale.

Reference image for the top deck of the bus, participants will sit in bed or on chairs wearing VR headsets.

Reference image for the top deck of the bus, participants will sit in bed or on chairs wearing VR headsets.

Frames from the Eames film  Powers of Ten.

Frames from the Eames film Powers of Ten.

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The lower deck of the bus will be refitted as a science lab with microscopes, models of bacteria, glass writing boards for drawing diagrams on, and a screen allowing access to 3D microscopy images captured by the scientists working on this public engagement project. The scientists have designed experiments that the participants can engage in to reveal how infection spreads, how bacteria form biofilms, and how materials developed by the scientists can prevent biofilm formation.

Male and female researchers from a range of ethnic and social backgrounds will directly engage 3600 KS3 & KS4 schoolchildren; provoking their curiosity about challenges facing society and exciting them with Science and Health Research’s ability to solve real-world problems in innovative ways. This will help promote diversity and inclusion in science; encouraging children to see themselves as scientists in the future.

Reference image for the design of the lower deck science lab

Reference image for the design of the lower deck science lab

Reference image for the design of the lower deck science lab

Reference image for the design of the lower deck science lab