Knitted bodies bring science to life for youngsters

18 April 2016

Volunteers are creating woollen internal organs for a University engagement project

Volunteer knitters have swapped baby blankets for body parts as part of an educational project run by the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).

The creative helpers have produced a range of child-size organs, including hearts, lungs, kidneys, livers and brains, which will be used by University academics to teach primary school youngsters about the body and healthy living.

The woollen organs are pinned to foam outlines of three ‘children’ and will include hands-on interactive features and lights.

Among the volunteer knitters are mother and daughter Olive Appleby and Pat Morris, from Penwortham. They have been attending the classes together since their first week of the project.

"“Usually me and my mum knit items for the premature baby units in Preston and Lancaster, plus we send lots of items overseas to Africa, so this is just a different way of helping the local community.”"

Great great grandmother Olive has created six body parts so far and is enjoying following the unusual knitting patterns. She said: “I’m just knitting whatever I’m asked to do, I don’t know what most of the organs do so it’s nice that we can find out a bit about what each part does. It’s lovely to meet new people and I’m learning how to crochet too which is great.”

Fellow knitter Enid Bosworth, from Ribbleton, has been crucial in creating various body parts. She added: “It’s the novelty of knitting body parts that makes this different. I thought it was very interesting that the bodies will be used to teach young children and that’s what attracted me to help out with the project.”

Local freelance artist Caroline Finnigan is the creative lead on The Physiology Society funded project. She has worked with UCLan’s Dr Liz Granger to create accurate size prototypes, modelled from wrapping paper, before writing the knitting and crocheting patterns.

Dr Granger, Manager of the UCLan and Royal Institution Young Scientists’ Centre (YSC), added: “This project is about getting young primary school children to learn about the body and healthy living in a fun and interactive way. There are lots of children who already come along to activities in the YSC but I’m always being asked by teachers to do something for the under sevens. These knitted bodies will enable academics to go out to schools and allow the children to learn while playing with the completed bodies.”

If you would like to get involved with the project then visit UCLan’s In The City shop, on the Lune Street entrance to the St George’s Shopping Centre, on Mondays between 1.30pm and 3.30pm and Thursdays between 1.00pm and 3.00pm.

Knitted body
Knitted body

"Pat said: “I get some very funny looks when people ask where I’m going and I say I’m off to knit body parts! It’s very different but good fun and it’s our way of helping out the children."