Press release

Wellcome Trust initiative links science to the Olympic and Paralympic Games for everyone in 2012

How do athletes move so fast and jump so high? As the world focuses on the extraordinary feats of human performance that will take place in London next summer, the Wellcome Trust is leading a London 2012-inspired UK-wide initiative to engage the public with the science of how their own body works during exercise, movement and rest.

With free experiment kits for every UK school and an interactive touring exhibition for the whole family, there will be an opportunity for everyone to explore what happens in our bodies and minds when we take part in sport, exercise or everyday movement.

The Wellcome Trust's In the Zone initiative will be formally launched by five-time Olympic Gold medallist Sir Steve Redgrave CBE at the Association for Science Education conference in Liverpool today. Sir Steve will take to the stage with medic and physiology expert Professor Hugh Montgomery and BBC Science Presenter Greg Foot for a live and interactive demonstration of some of the experiments from the free school kits.

Commenting on the launch, Sir Steve said: "It's often said that there's more to sport than winning medals, but there's also more to winning medals than sport. Science played a huge role in my Olympic success, and understanding how my body works was as important on race day as any brutal training regime.

"With In the Zone, the Wellcome Trust is giving kids everywhere an opportunity to understand their own bodies and how to use them, which will hopefully see them inspired in both science and sport."

From February 2012, the Wellcome Trust will deliver free kits with all the equipment and information needed to conduct hands-on experimental investigations into human physiology to every UK school and Further Education college. Does having long legs help you jump further? How does the cardiovascular system adapt during exercise and sport? These questions and more are explored in the curriculum-linked experiments developed in collaboration with Pearson Education.

In spring 2012, In the Zone goes on tour with an interactive exhibition for the whole family. The high-quality, immersive experience features interactive high-tech exhibits and guided investigations to explore how the body works. Visitors will be able to capture their movement with a high-speed camera, see their veins, sharpen their reaction times and race for gold in a show-stopping finish.

Designed and delivered by At-Bristol, one of the UK's leading science and discovery centres, the exhibition promises to delight, inspire, entertain and engage people with the amazing human body. In the Zone will travel to festivals and county shows in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland from March until September.

Clare Matterson, Director of Medical Humanities and Engagement at the Wellcome Trust, said: "The Olympic and Paralympic Games will be an inspiring time for sport and medicine as the world grapples to comprehend the astonishing capabilities of the human body. Wellcome Trust is harnessing the enthusiasm around the Games to get people thinking about how their own bodies work with some fun, hands-on experiments."

In the Zone has been awarded the Inspire Mark from the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) and is a key strand of Get Set+, part of the official London 2012 education programme.

About In the Zone: Kits for Schools

The Wellcome Trust is sending free experiment kits to every UK school and Further Education College in early 2012, engaging young people aged 4-19 through investigative work exploring physiology linked to UK curricula. A consortium led by Pearson Education is developing and delivering the kits. The investigations include:

Brilliant Bodies, for ages 4-5
Investigate balance and find out about different parts of the body.

Stupendous Steppers, for ages 5-7
Explore how quick off the mark you are and how many steps you take to do different activities.

Myth Busters, for ages 7-9
Discover whether having longer legs helps you to jump further.

Heart Beaters, for ages 9-11
What effect does exercise have on your body?

On Your marks…Get set…Breathe! for ages 11-14
Find out how exercise affects your breath and your breathing rate.

From Strength to Strength, for ages 14-16
Explore the strength of your muscles and discover how they are used during movement.

I've Got the Power, for ages 16-19
Investigate how the cardiovascular system adapts during different exercises or sports.

About In the Zone: Touring Exhibition

A free interactive experience will tour from March to September 2012 around the UK, visiting all four nations. The exhibition, designed and delivered by At-Bristol Science Centre, will engage people of all ages with the science of our amazing human body relating to sport and movement.

The exhibition includes five high-tech interactive exhibits, a live and responsive show with audience participation, and the opportunity for visitors to share data, images and video after the experience via social media.

The content of the exhibition and show covers the major human body systems relating to sport, activity and movement, with exhibits including:

  • Power Zone - investigate how high you can jump and how softly you can land
  • Blood Zone - view your veins and measure the hardworking pump at the centre of it all
  • Strength Zone - put your body through its paces to explore muscles, energy and fatigue
  • Reaction Zone - test your responses to light, sound and touch
  • Speed Zone - measure your speed off the starting line and race down our very own running track.

About At-Bristol

At-Bristol is a leading science centre in the UK and a major player in the science centre movement. At-Bristol makes and develops new exhibitions for Science centres and schools worldwide to purchase and hire. The centre aims to be world-class in making a distinctive, valued and recognised contribution to science learning and public engagement with science. As a registered charity, At-Bristol has hosted over four million visits since its opening in June 2000 and continually strives towards making science accessible to all. The charity receives no direct central government funding and support from visitors, members, corporate partners and donors means it can continue to make science relevant and fun for future generations.

About Get Set

Get Set is the official London 2012 education programme for schools and colleges across the UK. It provides free learning resources for young people aged 3-19 to find out more about the Games and explore the Olympic Values of excellence, friendship and respect and the Paralympic Values of determination, inspiration, courage and equality. It also offers access to exciting prizes and opportunities through participation in competitions and partner programmes. There are over 22 500 schools and colleges registered with Get Set.

In the Zone is part of Get Set+ and is featured within the Practical Learning theme.

The Get Set network is the London 2012 reward and recognition scheme for the active community of schools and colleges across the UK that are demonstrating a commitment to living the Olympic and Paralympic Values. Members of the network gain the right to use the London 2012 education logo and are given priority access to the most exclusive prizes and opportunities.

All schools participating in In the Zone are eligible to receive even greater reward and recognition from London 2012 by joining the Get Set network.

About the Wellcome Trust

The Wellcome Trust is a global charity dedicated to achieving extraordinary improvements in human and animal health. It supports the brightest minds in biomedical research and the medical humanities. The Trust's breadth of support includes public engagement, education and the application of research to improve health. It is independent of both political and commercial interests.