Lauren Carruthers (University of Glasgow)
'Poop Pondering' is a game to teach the general public, mainly aimed at school children, about parasitic worm diseases focusing on schistosomiasis, ascariasis, hookworm and trichuriasis.
Participants have to fish out a plastic poo shape, covered in beads of different colours, used to represent different parasite eggs, using a fishing rod and nets. They have to work out which parasite species they have and how many of each, and then determine their infection intensity. Finally using weighing scales they have to work out their treatment schedule assuming the sample was their own, which is then dosed out as sweets (two different kinds in place of praziquantel and albendazole).
The game uses the actual numbers that are used to determine infection intensity and treatment dose in the field. It can be simplified for younger participants. As well as teaching children about NTDs it also challenges them at maths, problem solving and fishing dexterity.
Cardboard poo masks have also been created so the participants can get a selfie of themselves doing the activity (there are happy uninfected poos and sad infected poo shaped masks).
It has already been on 3 public engagement outings and trialed several times by PhD students. It will also showcase at the upcoming Middle of Scotland and Glasgow Science Festivals and hopefully many more events.