Biology of snogging enthrals teens

Warwick Mansell

Teenagers at this year's festival might one day reflect on a new-found enthusiasm for science and say: "It started with a kiss". A dramatic production playing to goggle-eyed youngsters uses the biology of snogging to fire the pupils' interest in ... cellular biology.

If the two subjects seem unlikely bedfellows, the event, which took place in a garishly-coloured dome designed to look like the inside of a cell, seemed to work to spectacular effect.

Actors Alastair Bruce and Nicky McCabe gave pupils a breathless run-down of how cells work, and what happens when viruses invade.

They told the story of Neil and Tracey, friends who find love in a nightclub appropriately called "Snog". But Neil has glandular fever, the "kissing disease". Soon, the new couple could expect to be sporting identical swollen necks and high temperatures.

The production, a touring show designed by the Edinburgh International Science Festival, ended with a siren warning that viruses were invading the cell, and ordering pupils to evacuate.

Pupils from Holsworthy community college, west Devon, who watched the 40-minute show, were impressed. "It's better than copying stuff off the board or doing practicals," said Patrick Ions, 14.

The event was one of some 40 shows for youngsters at the festival. Pupils also got the chance to build robots out of Lego, explore one of Jupiter's moons, and learn about the physics of rockets.

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Warwick Mansell

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