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Opened a new eye exhibition

Doctoral candidates from around the world have gathered to communicate their research on the retina. The result is an interactive eye exhibit at VilVite Science Center.

Eye exhibition opening
15 PhDs along with other researchers and VilVite collaborated making the new eye exhibition on VilVite.
Photo:
Ingrid Hagerup

On Monday, research fellows and youths from St. Paul high school were gathered to witness the opening of a new part of the permanent exhibition at VilVite: A kind of puzzle, where the pieces represent different neurons in the brain. If you move them, a video screen will show you how that affects your vision.

The project is a collaboration between VilVite and an EU-funded innovative training network for doctoral candidates called switchBoard, which brings together doctoral fellowships worldwide.

Teaches research dissemination

What the exhibit demonstrates is the role of the different neurons in the retina – and what they do for our vision. The puzzle shows what happens to your vision if you remove any of the pieces, which here represent different neurons. The different neurons encode the colors you see, the ability to focus and night vision, to name a few. The technique behind the exhibition is advanced, and doctoral candidates have done everything, in collaboration with science teachers at VilVite. The common denominator of the early stage researchers in the switchBoard programme is that they all investigate the neurons of our retina. The aim for this specific project was to train the candidates in research dissemination, says Professor Margaret Veruki, who coordinated the project:

"We wanted the students to create something that was both fun, colorful and educational," she says.

Challenging cooperation

Rémi Fournel is one of the fellows who participated in the project. He is originally from France, but does his PhD at the Department of Biomedicine as part of the MSCA program. According to him, there were many challenges with the project. For example, he had to read up on parts of the retina that he didn’t know much about before, like color vision. It was also exciting to communicate with a designer who does not know the subject, to find good compromises between user-friendliness and science:

"First of all it was challenging to explain the science of the retina to someone who has no knowledge of the retina at all. Using simple words to explain something that really is very complicated", explains the candidate.

Ignite a spark

Frilance designer Kjersti Hjelmeland Brakstad worked on the design with the researches. She thinks it was both exciting and challenging to work on the project.

"There have been talented people in every function, and everyone has had the senses sharpened, to create an installation that is both user-friendly and educational, without the use of much text. The installation should be intuitive and everyone will get something out of it" she says.

Wenche Fivelsdal, who is responsible for science communication at VilVite, is very pleased with the result: "Our mission is to have children and young people to choose science, and by presenting new exciting research in this way, we hope to be able to ignite a small "spark"in children and young people to find out more. If the children are inspired, we have achieved what we want and we hope that this installation will contribute, says Fivelsdal.

The installation will be part of the permanent exhibition on VilVite.

Link to video (with Norwegian subtitles): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2QwpjeiH3Tw