This activity was run at the National Museum of Scotland and continues to run at the Roslin Institute’s Doors Open Day. Passers by can build foam viruses of differing levels of virulence with 3 kinds of receptors to see which animal hosts they could infect. For the younger and big kids, there was also a Play-Doh build-a-virus activity, exploring the ideas of what a virus needs to survive and spread.

These activities allowed people to play with the different combinations of virulence and receptor-based host restriction and spread. Doing so created an informal environment for discussion about the principles of mutations that change the shape of the same HA and NA receptors (antigenic drift), and acquiring different combinations of HA and NA (antigenic shift) to cause pandemics.

This activity was initially developed with Marieke Hoeve.