Community Art project with crafted neurons at science festival, organised by Science LinX/University of Groningen

Topic/Area: Science/neurobiology

Date released: April 2019 - 8th of June 2019 (Science Festival)

Type of Best Practices

  • PD/Training programme
  • Toolkit
  • Online Tools, Applications or Platform
  • Reports
  • Handbook/ Guidelines
  • Self-Assessment Test
  • Other, Community Art Project

Partners / network

University of Groningen, Netherlands, organiser science festival Night of Art and Science, together with local partners

Neural Knitworks; Australia; providing pattern book and support/advice

Yarn shop ‘Achterpand’; Netherlands; providing materials, network of crafters, get-togethers

Neurobiologist University of Groningen; Netherlands; providing content to the workshops

Description of the methods/ approach

In June 2019, the science festival Night of Art and Science took place in the city of Groningen, The Netherlands, with the theme ‘Inclusion’. Giving this theme, our aim was to involve the public in making a Community Art project, showcasing the result during the science festival. Neurobiologists at our faculty of Science and Engineering came up with the Neural Knitwork (see online source below) as a project.

Planning project with a team of neurobiologists and science communicators (aim, timeline, events) + patterns provided by Neural Knitworks PR (social media, flyers, website of science festival, interview with local newspaper) to announce the Community Art Project.

Organise events:

  • get-togethers at yarn shop to craft neurons
  • lessons at schools by neuron biologist explaining use of neurons and crafting them
  • stand at craft market with flyers and materials to get the community involved

Science festival: We managed to get 270 neurons (our aim was 200). Selected on color, we hang them in a tree shaped structure at a prominent place at the festival. Neurobiologists were present to inform the public about the use of neurons, and the project.


The aim was:

  • to get groups of the public involved that normally would not participate in science
  • to teach the public about what neurons are and how important they are for our functioning, while crafting them.

Evaluation (results) of its effectiveness (if applicable)


Overview of the lessons learned which are relevant to the project

  • it’s a great way to get young and old people involved that normally would not participate that easily in science
  • Good to include a yarn shop as partner in the project, facilitating get-togethers, providing materials and using their network.
  • The patterns of neurons had different levels, from very easy (winding) to more difficult (knitting or crochet), so both inexperience and very experienced people could contribute and make a neuron to their personal liking
  • It’s a nice method to get school children involved in science. They learn about the function of neurons, while crafting them. They are really proud of their work and wanted to share the results with others. We organised a special event during the daytime (as the festival started in the evening) for children to come and have a look at their neurons in the art work. They were really enthusiastic about seeing their own neuron. After the science festival, all neurons return to the children who made them.
  • Two months was relatively short for organising such a community art project.

References/online sources

Neural knitworks
* If you wish to host a Neural Knitwork event outside of Australia’s National Science Week or the Cambridge Science Festival we ask that you make contact to seek permission to use the material.

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