Springtime festival- Student Science communication

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I was really looking forward to the Springtime live fair Sunday 22nd, having had an incredibly intense week of interviews and high level science, a relaxing tailored version of what I love talking about was ideal! I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of the size of the event, I’d never been to one of Harrogate’s fairs. I certainly didn’t expect to have such a large space from which to engage the children and parents as well as the 2000+ people that came through the hall.

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The other stalls were very well spaced apart from each other and the indoor hall was well lit, with early spring light pouring through the sky ceilings. You could even see the wild Kites circling overhead, much to the dismay of the display owls indoors who nervously glanced at them, shaking their heads methodically to gauge their distance.

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9:15am and the children came pouring in like hundreds-and-thousands with their multitude of colourful jackets, hats, wellington boots and Spiderman costumes. Their parents initially seemed incredibly eager to engage their children with science, and once again the rat brains drew them in! With equal allurement was the furry pipe cleaners from which we made neurones with the children…I think I can safely say with confidence that I am a fully qualified pipe- cleaner neurone maker now.

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Brian- our model display who was disembowelled at least 53 times by small children… he isn’t as light as he looks…

Peter and Rhian were also experts by now, dispelling equal enthusiasm as the children. It was such a buzz to see the children’s faces and reaction to the realization that what they had in their hands was from a real animal. Their faces were a picture when they were told that human head transplants were a real possibility within two years, even the adults couldn’t resist a comical facial contortion. It was incredibly rewarding to see young families engaging in science and being inquisitive about our work at Leeds.

 

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I also mentioned our last event at the Leeds museum with dementia, and had to draw upon the facts I remembered from that! The body model was HUGLEY popular with children, I think we got through 17 packs of antiseptic wipes to clean him up after! The children particularly enjoyed replacing the organs, and seemed to respond to how each of them worked in their own bodies. Fits of giggle were always had upon arriving at the intestines and bladder. Even the models ‘bottom’ seemed to send 5 year olds into hysterics much to their parent’s amusement.

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The Blood Pressure Monitoring was very popular with the adults (40-60 year olds), and some had a bit of a shock when they got readings of 140/90 +, we couldn’t really recommend anything in terms of health, other than to go and see their GP if they felt it necessary and not to worry too much, that the event noise and excitement could have increased it. One thing I think we should definitely try out next time is face painting- a random assortment of butterfly, tiger, Frozen’s Elsa and Spiderman met me at the stall, and seemed to be incredibly popular. My GCSE art skills would come in handy here… Equally Leeds fancy dress and society social face painting experience will also come flooding back. Painting neurones, facial muscles, bones and body parts on the children could help them to learn more about the body and feel inspired by science. Also the possibility of some exercise demonstrations? I love doing yoga and asked whether adults would be willing to watch demonstrations, and seemed keen. Who knows, I might be posting up video tutorials soon! Overall the day was a real success, with people STILL coming up to us even during packing up and in the car park!

It seems they can’t get enough of the human body! I can’t wait for the next one, which is on June 6th- AND one of my favourite topics- INSECTS!

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Interview with BBC’s Dr Chadden Hunter- From academia to wildlife production

2015-03-17 18.35.48 chadThe media and Zoology students at the University of Leeds were treated to very fascinating and inspirational talk by Dr Chadden Hunter, wildlife biologist and a BBC producer and director of ground-breaking series such as Frozen Planet and several upcoming exciting new series by the BBC- to be revealed soon! I had the incredible opportunity to have a television interview with him afterwards as part of our new “Eco Talks” for Eco Sapien, and really enjoyed delving into the world of wildlife filmmaking with a true professional. Chadden-Hunter David, producer of Eco Sapien, and I quickly set up 3 cameras to intermittently film it and added a Magnito microphone to capture Chadden’s dulcet Australian tones. eco I was rather nervous before hand as a huge fan of his work and having not presented on camera for some time- been living behind the camera and radio mic! chadden 2 Firstly the talk discussed making the transition from the world of academia into the wildlife film industry– a notoriously difficult and incredibly rewarding career and way of life that I am sure those of you who are reading this want to get into …keep reading on!

What I really enjoyed about the interview was how passionate and encouraging he was about getting into the world of science communication, because what many people wanting to get into this industry forget, is that although we are all competing to get that dream job and place on the next major blue chip BBC series- were are ALL working together as a TEAM to achieve the same goal: inspiring others to care and preserve the natural world around us and conserve it for future generations to enjoy. Wouldn’t it be a sad legacy if we were not able to save the very subjects that we film? That’s what we encompass at Eco Sapien, the collaboration of conservation biologists and creativity to communicate our passion for the natural world TOGETHER. chadden The interview and full write up will be out soon once the editing process has begun, so should take a while- WATCH THIS SPACE!  But here’s a little teaser into Chadden’s amazing aussie adventures…. Born in Mount Isa, a mining community in the remote north-east of Australia, he travelled with his family to pre-revolutionary Iran where his father was working as a field geologist. Following a few years in Arizona and Colorado it was back to Melbourne where Hunter happily settled back into Australian life. That strength of character was reinforced during the halcyon years of his adolescence when his enduring love of nature and the natural world really took hold. Moving to Cairns, he was suddenly surrounded by nature in all its stunning beauty and profusion. At 15 Hunter fell in love with scuba diving and saved every penny he could earn to pay for his new obsession, not least since he had the dream location to pursue it. camera_and_boy After Cairns he moved on to the University of Queensland zoology department, completing his Bachelor of Science in marine biology and working as a research scuba diver. He then studied bowerbirds in St Lucia to gain a First Class Honours degree in behavioural ecology. It was during this time he was taught by one of the people who was to have a profound effect on his life and the way it progressed…..

**Full write up soon, interview below!**

Short 10-minute version

Full 20-minute version