How Ingenious!

The Circuits! Blog

 This blog, written by our team of Ingenious Circuits! Engineers, will follow the development and application of this fun new project. Check back here regularly for updates!

February/March 2018 – MSc Science Communication and Public Engagement student placement – Building an engineering challenge for Circuits!

Eloïse Guibourg & Siddharth Kankaria

We have been on placement at Proteus for 8 weeks as part of our MSc in Science Communication & Public Engagement. Our primary mission was to develop a 3-minute challenge to be used by the Young Engineers and Science Clubs Scotland (YESC) as part of their Celebration of STEM 2018 event. The Circuits! team had already developed an excellent teaching resource in the form of light and sound tool that were used as a model for demonstrating the use of biomedical engineering in healthcare.

Siddarth sets up an activity

We adapted this existing teaching tool to a 3-minute challenge, which could be solved by school groups of 6 children each. We tried to develop a suitable narrative and worked out the specifics of how the challenge would progress within those 3 minutes. We then tested our prototype activity as part of the British Science Week at the Glasgow Science Centre. We each took turns to present the activity to the children, while the other person objectively observed the activity while making a note of potential improvements for the future.

In the activity, a patient had been infected by an unknown pathogen, which the children had to identify. With the use of the sound tube filled with red thermocol balls (a representation of a test tube with a blood sample), the children used sound waves of a particular frequency to create standing waves patterns of the balls, thus revealing a sticker of the infecting pathogen stuck to the bottom of the tube.

A prototype of the Circuits! tool

Next, the children compared the shape of the pathogen they had just discovered with the shapes of a few representative examples of pathogens listed on a diagnosis table. This diagnosis table listed the pathogen shapes, their names, their reflectance values under red, green and blue-coloured lights as well as the right treatment plan for fighting that infection. With the use of the light tool, the children then measured the reflectance of the infecting pathogen (hidden inside a rectangular box, provided to them), and figured out the right pathogen by comparing the reflectance values displayed on the voltmeter, and generated by each of the LED lights, with the values listed on the diagnosis table, and thus eliminated the wrong options.

Finally, after the children found the infecting pathogen, they selected the appropriate treatment, and opened the corresponding pill, to check if the treatment they selected cured the patient or not (a scroll of paper inside these tiny pills stated whether the treatment was the correct one or not).

Siddarth runs the Circuits! activity with some schoolchildren.

Exhibiting our activity at the Glasgow Science Centre was an invaluable opportunity for us, as it allowed us to witness our prototype in action. Several subtle considerations in the designing of our prototype were revealed, and we were able to spot minor flaws and oversights within our activity. We also got the opportunity to meet several enthusiastic children and their experienced teachers and were able to gather a lot of useful feedback. All of this feedback is now being channelled into improving and enhancing the final challenge that Circuits! will be presenting at the YESC event in June. We hope to be able to attend the final event in order to see the finished version of our prototype in action.

A photo of Eloise and Siddarth

Also, we would like to take this opportunity to thank Helen Szoor-McElhinney, Melanie Jimenez, Peter Reid, and Glasgow Science Centre for all the help, support, and guidance that they have provided us with during these last 8 weeks, in order to conceptualise, enhance and develop our prototype further. We are happy with the work we have done and hope that our efforts to create this prototype have been useful to the Circuits! Project. We enjoyed our placement at Proteus, working on the Circuits! Project and look forward to seeing how this project will develop further in the coming years.

October/November 2017 – MSc Science Communication and Public Engagement student placement – Proteus

– Ellie Cawthera, Hannah Stewart and Caroline Lyth

.We had the opportunity to work with Circuits! to develop an instruction sheet that will be used at an SSERC CPD day. This will be used by secondary school science teachers who are piloting an activity based on sound waves, and it will be available on the SSERC website. We found it really exciting to be a part of this partnership work and to play a small role in this project.

14th July 2017 – Ingenious Circuits! Engineers Workshop

– Paula Pappas

A few of the FemEng team went to the University of Edinburgh to meet the Ingenious Circuits! team so that we could trial the workshop prototypes they designed for us to take to Rwanda.

Once we arrived, we shared our opinions on what public engagement means to us. We followed this up with a presentation to the group introducing what FemEng is about and our goals for supporting engineering engagement in Rwanda, linking to how we aim to use the Circuits! connection to achieve them.

Following our presentation, we had the chance to listen to the Proteus engineers as they described the incredible research they are doing and learn about their work on creating a new, improved method of diagnosing lung diseases and infections.

Having learned about the concept of their work, we tried out the workshop they designed which links to their research. The workshop involved using a Borescope camera to see into a plastic set of lungs, where we identified different coloured small balls representing different types of bacteria.

The Proteus kit
Some of the kit used for the Proteus workshop around diagnosing of lung diseases in new ways.


Afterwards, the University of Glasgow’s Dr. Melanie Jimenez provided us with an overview of her research into using sound technology to diagnose malaria in blood cells, and subsequently showed us the interactive workshop she created relating to this research. We learned that the difference in density of healthy blood cells in comparison to infected cells means that they will react to different sound frequencies, allowing them to be separated when a sample is being tested.

Melanie chats to engineers
Testing out Dr Jimenez’s workshop around blood cells and sound technologies.


Our final afternoon activity, Story Mapping, required us to identify the teaching tools that could be used to present these workshops to students. We did this by mapping out the different parts of the technologies, thinking of the different elements coming together as a whole.

The whole day was a great experience for us as it was informative and engaging and we can’t wait to test the new workshops in Rwanda! We are extremely grateful to Dr Helen Szoor-McElhinney and Dr Melanie Jimenez for organising this event for us and giving us such great resources.

6th April 2017  – Ingenious Kick Off Workshop – The Royal Academy of Engineering

– Helen Szoor-McElhinney

“Melanie and I took the train over to Glasgow Science Centre to meet the other successful Ingenious awardees as part of a Kick Off Workshop organised by the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng). It was a great opportunity to see the other engineering projects that had been selected by RAEng to be rolled out over the coming year. The projects are diverse and incredibly inspiring, from developing live, musical shows that blend engineering with theatre to exploring the world of sludgy materials and their unpredictable behaviour, plus a story telling project that brings the work of Dorothée Pullinger (1894-1986) a pioneering automobile engineer to audiences through a thought provoking new film.

We all got on so well sharing our delight of having been chosen to develop and deliver our exciting new projects. We also shared ideas around how we can rigorously evaluate our projects so that we are able to accurately measure our success once the projects are complete. I feel that the Ingenious Scotland 2017 network will provide real support and motivation for one another and Circuits! are looking forward to working closely with them over the next year and beyond…”


The team behind Circuits!
Melanie (centre right ) and I (centre left) at the Ingenious Workshop, with RAEng’s Jo and Marianne.