The first few days in a new job tend to be a nerve wrecking experience for most, but not for me! I was asked if I wanted to go to Bestival to take part in The Science Tent. The prospect of taking part in my first student/public engagement event, a week after I had just started was very exciting.
Taking BU’s research to Bestival, Isle of Wight (which is one of the most exciting festivals this country has today) was an opportunity we could not refuse. With capacity exceeding more than 50,000, the opportunity for public engagement was always going to be rife.
Besitvals Peace Hill & Valley played host to the very popular Science Tent, where the BU team solely engaged with more than 1500 members of the festival. We disseminated 1500 wristbands and gave away lots of additional merchandise to get our name out there and recognised. Let’s hope some of them remember!
One activity we had at Bestival was Surprising Skulls. It consisted of a number of replica animal skulls which participants had to identify by examining features such as the type of teeth they have and the position of their eyes. We also encouraged them to engage in brain teasers such as word and colour recognition and how they conflict with each other, this proved to be a fun and humorous activity to the people participating. The enthusiasm for our stall was ever so pleasing for the team which consisted of Barry Squires (Public engagement & Impact Manager) and Sam Squelch (Student Engagement Coordinator) The Primate Activity ran by Fiona Coward and Sarah Elliot were also extremely popular and engaged a lot of attendees. This extremely exciting display gave passers-by research into our ancestors dating back from 7 million years ago and the journey on how we have evolved. The reaction to both displays was filled with growing enthusiasm and a genuine sense of interest into some of the research that was on show, bring on next year!
Does Bestival sounds like something you would like to get involved with? Do you have an exciting research activity that you could showcase? If so, why not register your interest ready for next year. Click here to find out what other exciting and engaging activities took place at The Science Tent last week.
In September last year one of our own academics, Josie Pegg, took to the stage at Bestival’s “Bestiversity” to deliver a talk on Horrors or Heroes: :Learning to Love Parasites.
In case you didn’t get the chance to come along, she’s agreed to do it all over again, this time at your local Cafe Scientifique. Every first Tuesday of the month we get together in Boscombe’s Cafe Boscanova to hear about ideas in science of technology over a glass of wine and then engage in stimulating discussion. Have a look at our website to find out more about the venue and future events.
Tuesday 3 June: Horrors or Heroes: Learning to love parasites
Parasites are the stuff of horror movies, they not only consume their host but can be capable of controlling their host’s body and mind in the most freakish of ways.
But this is only half the story.
Around 75% of all species are parasitic, and parasites play an essential ecological role, prove unlikely allies and in fact are in many ways responsible for life as we know it.
Josie’s talk will challenge you to take a fresh look at parasites, and decide whether they really are horrors or heroes.
Doors open from 6.30pm for a 7.30pm start.
Who says public engagement isn’t fun?
Who says public engagement isn’t fun? For those of you who are not yet convinced that sharing your research with a wider audience than your academic peers is exciting and fulfilling, perhaps you should read on!
As you may have read over the past few days, from 5th to 8th September 2013, I (Sharon Docherty, AECC) was part of a team of enthusiastic exhibiters in the Science Tent at Bestival, an end of summer music festival on the Isle of Wight. Facilitated by Rebecca Edwards in the Research and Knowledge Exchange Office, this was the first year that a Bournemouth contingent had been invited to take part and it was a unique opportunity to work with like-minded colleagues from Southampton, Southampton Solent, Portsmouth and Keele universities as well as the National Oceanographic Centre in Southampton. So, we were determined to make the opportunity count. Along with Naomi Capell (BU STEM outreach officer) and a group of BU student and staff volunteers, I think it is fair to say that we did Bournemouth proud… well they’ve asked us back again. Furthermore, it was made even more successful with the superhuman organizational skills of Naomi Kay (she’s the one that managed to stay sane helping to organise the Festival of Learning!).
For my part, I ran a live experiment which tested how accurately people are able to perceive vertical. In return they received a sticker based on their error category, some people were extremely happy to be able to proclaim they were normal. By asking a couple of questions, I was able to compare males and females and also whether or not those who had consumed alcohol that day had errors that were different from those who hadn’t. Although the conditions were hardly rigorously controlled, the results were interesting. Sorry ladies but the guys really are better at hanging pictures but most surprising of all perhaps was that we found people who had not had any alcohol for comparison…at a festival! From the sample tested (see graph, n = 117 but I spoke to about three times as many people), it appears that alcohol does not have an effect on perception of vertical. Could this be that people were in “the zone” that improves the playing of darts and pool? Obviously the question requires further investigation… Now, where to look for funding??
Written by Josie Pegg
I love festivals; I’d love to have been a rock star, the only problem being that I have minimal musical talent. However I do know a lot about parasites, and this was enough to get me a gig at this year’s Bestival.
Though not quite as rock and roll as the main stage, I was speaking in the Bestiversity tent, in the Tomorrow World area of Bestival. My talk “The parasite saga – a tale of horror, love and mystery” was a fun pop-science look at parasites and how big a part they play in our lives. The Bestiversity tent was rather fabulous. My audience were able to lounge on sofas and giant beanbags, while my retro-styled stage comprised a comfortable armchair and PA system – I’m sure we’d get a few bonus points in the student satisfaction survey, if all lectures were like this. Furthermore I was handed a cold beer as I walked on stage – perhaps maybe something to consider to enhance staff satisfaction!
The experience was a nice break from my less rock-and-roll PhD life, where I am presently trying to write my transfer document concurrent to surviving the busiest period of my field season. Although my Bestival talk was designed to be fun and accessible to anyone it was essentially a version of one of the chapters of my PhD, so writing it proved to be a very useful exercise for me; as Einstein said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough”. It was also a gentle reminder that my PhD is actually really interesting and cool, and more than just a never-ending stream of tissue samples and spreadsheets.
Above all taking part in Bestival was simply a whole lot of fun – there aren’t many chances to use a powerpoint presentation containing slides of Santa, George Clooney and the alien chest-burster. And much to the fulfilment of my rockstar fantasy I was classed as an Artist so I got to walk around with an Artist wristband and travel on the Artist shuttle. Plus I could camp in the Artist campsite with hot showers and real flushing toilets! And I got two tickets so I was also able to enjoy the rest of the festival with my friends once my talk was over.
The best bit of the whole experience for me was late on Thursday night as my friends and I were dancing to some gypsy punk in the polka tent when I was approached by a stranger. “I saw your talk today”, she said, “I didn’t do science but that parasites can do all that is brilliant, thanks for telling me”.
Does that count as a fan? If so, could this have been my best moment ever?!
I’d encourage anyone to apply for next years Bestiversity. If you’d like to know more speak to your agent or Becca Edwards.