De Montfort University researchers collaborate with Thinktank Birmingham for latest exhibition

Researchers at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) have partnered with Thinktank, Birmingham Science Museum, to provide educational resources that teach children the importance of handwashing.

The ‘Germs Journey’ project, which raises awareness of health hygiene through interactive education, forms part of the museum’s new MiniBrum gallery; a child-sized world designed for youngsters to explore their understanding of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) through different role-play zones.


DMU’s Dr Katie Laird and Professor Sarah Younie came up with the Germs Journey concept and the Thinktank team co-ordinated and organised the creation of a handwashing song with children from Benson Community School in Birmingham and musicians from Bridge Arts and Music.

The catchy song, which was recorded and filmed by Alice Tuppen Corps, a senior lecturer in Digital Performance at DMU, will be played in the MiniBrum toilets at Thinktank for children to join in with.

The museum will also incorporate Germs Journey games and activities throughout the exhibition and offer health hygiene workshops for schoolchildren as part of its educational programme.

Germs Journey

Lauren Deere, Museum Manager at Thinktank, Birmingham Science Museum, said: “800 children and families have helped to shape MiniBrum and the schoolchildren from Benson Community School used their imaginations to create a really catchy song for the gallery which shares an important message about health hygiene. The learning will continue through specially designed workshops for school groups, furthering the educational work of the Germs Journey project.”

Dr Laird said: “It’s fantastic to see our work come to life in such a fun and interactive way at the Thinktank museum. We’ve been working on this project for around a year now, partnering with local schoolchildren and musicians to produce a song that encourages youngsters to think about washing their hands properly.”

Dr Laird, head of the Infectious Disease Research Group, and Professor Younie, reader in Education, Innovation and Technology, co-created a book called ‘A Germ’s Journey’, which raises awareness and communicates the importance of handwashing at a young age.

It includes illustrations which feature special thermochromic black paint and once the child’s hand is placed upon the paint, the microbes present appear on the hands in the book and the black paint vanishes.

Katie Laird Germs Journey book

After a successful launch in Leicester, Dr Laird and Professor Younie travelled to Ahmedabad in India to run Germs Journey workshops for youngsters in partnership with charity Manav Sadhna, which provides food, health and education to families living in slums.

“The handwashing song we have created with Thinktank for MiniBrum was inspired by our DMU trip to India,” explained Dr Laird. “We worked with teachers out there who shared their own handwashing song with us and we learnt from their culture to create a version that appeals to young children here.”

MiniBrum will open to the public on Saturday 25 May and entry is included in the ticket price to Thinktank. To find out more about Thinktank visit:

For details about Germs Journey visit

Posted on Friday 24 May 2019

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