Science communication

Science is brilliant, particularly Physics, and I want to let people know about it. Not just the cool bits, but all those niggly little bits that often get hidden in equations, but are actually really exciting too. Here are some different ways that I’ve been letting people know about the wonders of the way the universe works:

Science Comedy

After my first performance at Bright Club Cambridge, a comedy evening in which researchers get to perform stand-up sets about their area of research, I really caught the science comedy bug. Since then I’ve performed several more times at Bright Club Cambridge, and appeared in Bright Club at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2013.

This has led on to other performances, including performing a set about what makes a good physical law at Happy Birthday Mr Feynman, which took place in the Bloomsbury Theatre in London. I also performed at the Pint of Science Festival in Cambridge, going a little way out of my Physics comfort zone in order to talk about Environmental Science – getting laughs out of a topic that can often be telling us saddening news about the state of our planet.

Online

Over a year ago I started using Google+ Hangouts On Air to broadcast an online science magazine show called Sci Cam, and I’m still putting out monthly episodes with the help of a few friends and a bunch of guest presenters. For each episode I organise a few different presenters who sit in front of their computers and talk about an area of science for around ten minutes, and then answer questions from their fellow hosts and the general public. After the shows these videos are archived on YouTube on the Sci Cam channel.

I also have a personal YouTube channel with a few science videos in which I explore the physical links between seemingly disparate situations, and I hope to add more videos soon. Some of these videos led to a guest slot on the “Geek & Sundry Vlogs” YouTube channel, which can be seen here.

Demonstrations

From firing smoke rings with a vortex cannon to extracting DNA from saliva, demonstrations are a great way to get people to engage with science. I’ve been demonstrating to children (and often their parents too!) for around ten years now.  As well as running demonstrations set up by Cambridge Hands-On Science (CHaOS) and the Cambridgeshire Branch of the British Science Association I’ve put together demos for the Cambridge Science Festival’s Demo Derby and for the Cambridge Science Festival 2013, I teamed up with Helen Arney for Sciencelele Singalong, a show combining science demonstrations from me and ukulele playing and singing from her.

Talks for children & adults

In addition to demos, I’ve also written and given talks on a range of topics to audiences from students to adults. I created a lecture for the Ogden Trust called “The Worst Ideas in Science”, which by example showed how scientific theories were created and discarded when new evidence came to light which didn’t fit the previous theory. I delivered this to a class of GCSE students at Rickmansworth High School, as well as at Science Oxford and  SciBar Oxford. I’ve also given talks to schoolchildren aged 14-16 as part of the Physics at Work exhibition at the Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge.

For older audiences I’ve covered topics such as rotation, the use of relativity and quantum physics in smartphones, and quantum cryptography at events such as Cambridge Skeptics in the Pub, Robin Ince’s Show and Tell and Late Night Lab at the Cambridge Science Centre. I have also taken part in the FameLab science communication competition, and was a regional finalist in 2014.

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