Operation Float Build
This year, for the first time, students at Manchester Metropolitan University have decided to enter a float into the Manchester Day Parade. The Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences Research Institute's programme of public events for 2011-12 has been based on the theme of 'community', celebrating different aspects of community organization, culture, sport and music. Led by Dr Annabel Kiernan, the community programme wanted to have an interactive, student led project which would bring the university out to the communities which surround it. So the idea of entering a float into the Manchester Day Parade began to take shape.
Students studying BA (Hons.) Public Services are designing and building the float for this year's Parade theme 'The sky's the limit .... a celebration of heroic achievements' and have been helped through the design and build process by activist artist Tracey Moberly.
The students have decided to celebrate the work of local Manchester hero John Dalton the renowned atomic theorist who also studied the challenge of colour blindness. A bust of John Dalton can be found outside Manchester Town Hall and he lends his name to one of the University's buildings.
John Dalton wrote the first known scientific paper regarding colour blindness. Colour blindness affects approximately 1 in 12 men (8%) and 1 in 200 women in the world. In Britain this means that there are approximately 2.7 million colour blind people (about 4.5% of the entire population), most of whom are male. Sufferers generally have difficulty distinguishing between red, green, brown, orange, yellow and grey, which appear as varying shades of murky green.
The 'float' takes the form of two huge colour blindness tests reproduced on by 3m x Sm banners ... and accompanied by colour-themed music from a solar PA. The watching crowd are invited to tweet what they can see to @MMU_Float_MDP and the MMU tweet feed will let them know whether they exhibit a form of colour blindness. The float is not a foolproof piece of science but it is a good way of highlighting the issue of colour blindness and of using social media to convey a public message.