The Mighty Fruit Fly Show!

5th July 2019

“Have you ever looked at a bunch of gone off bananas and thought twice about the flies buzzing around them? Those tiny flies are Drosophila – the humble fruit fly, and they have taught scientists more about genetics than just about any other species! Join Lizzie Daly and the S4 team for a flying show like no other! Lizzie’s biology research delves into the life of these strange insects, and she will bring you on a journey to explore the weird and wonderful truth about Drosophila. Did you know they have eyes with 760 individual lenses?! From genetic mutations that allowed discoveries relevant to our very own genes to some ground-breaking scientific research stories and exciting on-stage experiments. You will never look at a fruit fly in the same way again!!”

S4, the Swansea Science for Schools Scheme, recently hosted Year 7 students from for the S4 summer science show “The Mighty Fruit Fly Show”. Over 460 Year 7 children came along to Singleton Campus for the event and were joined by staff and their families plus home-schooled students from around Swansea. The Mighty Fruit Fly Show was delivered by S4 Outreach Fellow Lizzie Daly and Outreach Scientists Dr Kristi Praki and Dr Catie Williams. The lively show focused on the weird and wonderful world of drosophila – the humble fruit fly! The action-packed hour was filled with quizzes, on stage experiments and featured a giant fruit fly model made by S4 Designer Paige Jennings using recycled materials!

By seeing real-life genetic mutant flies on stage, comparing ‘wild’ and ‘mutant’ flies and experimenting with fly vision, pupils learned first-hand about ground-breaking scientific research stories. Fruit flies share nearly 60% of their genes with humans this makes them an ideal research species and scientists learned a lot about genetic inheritance from being able to rapidly study many generations of these fast-reproducing insects, in the lab. Flies have even been sent to the International Space Station where they allowed scientists to study how space travel effects the genes of astronauts! The humble fruit fly is a super model species!

Cymer Afan Comprehensive School said “It was a great day and a very rewarding experience”. Teachers from Ysgol Maesteg added “My class and I enjoyed it and they are excited to return again next academic year!”.

School students took home some amazing facts as well with a student from Pentrehafod sharing, “I learnt that flies can see differently to humans and the male fly’s wings can make music!” Fellow year 7 pupil from Bishop Vaughan Catholic School added “I really enjoyed the part with the big fly when you had to name the body parts”.