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Family Fun Day: Who am I?

Get hands-on with the 2018 CHRISTMAS LECTURES at this season’s Family Fun Day. Drop in for an action-packed day of talks, demonstrations, experiments and more!

Enjoying gettings hands-on with science!
Harry Harper

Event description

This event is now sold out. There will only be limited returned tickets available on the door. 

Get hands-on with the 2018 CHRISTMAS LECTURES at this season’s Family Fun Day. Drop in for an action-packed day of talks, demonstrations and experiments all exploring the science behind what makes you, you!

We will be exploring how animals evolve, and the many interesting animal ancestors we have, how our genes help shape our development, and the amazing range of diversity we see between people. 

Family Fun Day activities are suitable for 7–12 year olds though older and younger siblings are also very welcome. All under 18-year olds must be accompanied by an adult. Ri Young Members enjoy Family Fun Days for free, but don't forget to book tickets before taking part on the day. 


Fran Scott: Who am I? Inside the CHRISTMAS LECTURES11.20am, 1.15pm, 3.15pm; 30minsThe CHRISTMAS LECTURES are famous for their exciting and inventive use of demonstrations to bring science to life. Join the Ri's science content producer Fran Scott on a whistle stop of the 2018 lectures, exploring the question ‘who am I?’ with some of their favourite demos from this year as well as a few surprises from lectures past!

Matt Wilkinson: Why are there no dragons?12.15pm and 2.15pm; 30minsHumans might be a wonder of evolution, but we are only a small part of a huge tree of life, from electric eels to carnivorous plants. But have you ever wondered why dragons, unicorns, giants and vampires don’t exist? Join zoologist Matt Wilkinson on an expedition beyond life as we know it, to see why there are some things that evolution just can’t make.


Activities for this Family Fun Day have been designed to explore topics from the 2018 Christmas Lectures, entitled ‘Who am I?’. How does camouflage help animals avoid being eaten? Are your genes to blame for finding brussels sprouts disgusting? Are your thumbs really that useful? Find out answers to these puzzling questions and much more with over 20 hands-on activities to explore.These activities have been developed in partnership with The Genetics Society.

Please note, some activities will explore genetics, heritable traits and the similarities and differences found between relatives.


As well as activities run by the Ri, UK Research and Innovation are bringing along research groups from around the UK, giving you the chance to explore cutting edge research, meet scientists in person and get hands-on with their exciting work:

MRC Harwell Exploring Genetics: Genes make us what we are Have a squeeze of squidgy brain models and see how genetic errors can change how brain cells look. Find out why sugar can affect us differently depending on our genes and take a sleep hygiene quiz to see why genes are important for our sleep/wake cycle. ESRC Words for Wellbeing Explore why language is so important for mental health, through a range of activities to show how language helps us to recognise our own and others’ emotions. Come along and put your hands in feely boxes and see if your family or friends can guess your emotion.

BBSRC Bug Busters Using LEGO, live mosquitoes, video and other models, explore this hands-on exhibit demonstrating the basics of genetics, how gene editing works and how we use this technology to change the traits of mosquitoes in order to control how they transmit viruses such as Zika and Dengue.

EPSRC Wee Archie supercomputer Design an aircraft wing on this mini-supercomputer, Wee Archie. It represents its much larger sibling, ARCHER, the UK national supercomputing service. Supercomputing is a crucial part of modern day science and engineering, and designing aircraft is one of very many tasks that ARCHER is used for on a daily basis. Today we will be using Wee Archie to simulate how your wing would fly attached to a 757, will it take off or crash into the sea?

MRC WIMM Cut and paste - can genome editing improve human health? Is it really possible to edit the human genome? From tackling rare blood diseases and cancer to understanding how the body responds to viruses, genome editing is the new frontier in medicine. Explore the techniques being used to understand the human body and find treatments for disease.

EPSRC Pepper Robot Researchers from Bristol Robotics Laboratory will be showcasing some of their latest work on human robot interaction, including robots for healthcare and assisted living, with help from one of their Pepper robots.

NERC Operation Earth Come and find out how environmental science is helping us understand how our world is changing. At Operation Earth you can find out what’s making Earthy sick and how we can make it better, discover why we have plastics in the ocean and have a go at spotting different types of insects in our garden.


The theatre is on the first floor and there is step-free access from the street via lift.

The closest underground station is Green Park, which is step-free.

There is space at floor level in the theatre for wheelchair users.

Seating is usually unreserved for our events. If you and your group require seating reservations, please do let us know by email and we’ll be more than happy to help. Email:

Carers can receive a free ticket to an event by emailing

Our theatre is equipped with an Audio Induction Loop.