Why did the bacteria cross Finland? To get to SciFest!


On May 16th, 2018, a dream was fulfilled. Cresting a local hill in Jyväskylä, turning around the muted greys of apartment buildings, an emerald jewel glimmered into view.

An embodiment of one of our signature bacteria, the 1.5m tall rendering of Ollie the Cholera was wriggling gently - in the breeze, or with some life force from within? We may never know.

Today would be Ollie's maiden voyage to Joensuu : a city with a wolf on a bench, for the annual SciFest event.

If you also want to see a wolf on a bench, use this map to get to Joensuu and ask a local for guidance:



Transporting the bacterium wasn't without hitches. It took in the region of 4 hours to travel the near 300km, even on the broad sunny roads of Finland.

Complicating matters, it was a very warm day, so we had to dispose of several additional bacteria that spawned in the van, along the way. Eventually, we made it to the SciFest venue in the late evening.

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SciFest is an incredible collection of people, teams, and science workshops. This year, there were over 70 workshops available, ranging from Antidote (us!) to VR, with everything from cookies to robots in between.

The theme this year was "science goes arts" - a theme we couldn't love more! To make a game requires a fusion of the two - cutting edge technique and processes, and a healthy dose of creativity. Not to mention a whole load of scientific method in the development process!

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Our workshop at SciFest had some brilliant comics (check out PetriPark from the sidebar if you want to see them!), a competition to win a Lenovo Android tablet, and of course the opportunity to play Antidote and learn all about immunology and how vaccines work.

It was an intense two days - the temperature in the bacteria suit was over 30C, and kids have boundless energy. The unanimous opinion of the team: worth it. The energy and joy was incredible, and just plain massive fun. And the numbers made it worth it too!

Chocolates consumed
105
New players
130+
Gametime over the two days
482 hours
Bacteria and viruses killed
uncountable billions

If you're operating a company, school, or group with an interest in science, especially if you can easily reach the event, I implore you : join in next year's event! This is a premier event to inspire, show off your cool stuff, and learn a lot about science. And if you can manufacture us a drone that looks like one of our game viruses... you know how to contact us.

By Friday evening, Ollie was still looking mighty fine. Several child-assault waves, no doubt infuriated by Ollie's Antivaxx sentiments had managed to weaken a few internal structures, but fundamentally, all was well. With great difficulty, we persuaded the bacterium back into our van for the homeward journey.

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A massive thank you to all those involved making this dream come true:

  • Maija and Mikko who "thought they could maybe make that, yes", and created the incredible bacteria costume
  • The SciFest team, for organising the even
  • Our team, for managing to stand for 2 days straight
  • Ravintola Roihu, for feeding us reliably amazing pizza!
  • Everyone who attended SciFest. Stay curious!

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