Day 2 of the British Science Festival

…and I am feeling I need a lie-down! All I did today was help present three 45-minute workshops to a total of nine groups of half a dozen kids. I realise this is nothing compared to the daily workload of a teacher, so all I can say to any teachers reading this is: Respect.

Today was the first day I had seen the workshop in operation, as I was tied up with a different event yesterday, and I was blown away by what a great event Lisa and Corry had organised (see inset image of the programme).
Everything ran very smoothly with expert presentation from Helen and Mandy, and the students (aged 11-14) seemed to really enjoy the different activities.

Corry had created an incredible giant sculpture of a praying mantis from translucent green acrylic. I don’t know what’s going on optically, but it really appears to glow with an inner light! Just incredible.
Lisa had made a papier-mache mantis head to demonstrate how insects see through compound eyes, which everyone enjoyed trying on.

We were all impressed by what a natural teacher Paul is: “Right! Front row is red group, you’re with Helen doing the experiment. Middle row, you’re blue group, you’re with me over here” – friendly but with a natural authority; great stuff.

Yesterday, I gave a short talk on 3D vision as part of a set of linked talks on perception (More than meets the eye, organised by Quoc Vuong and Debbie Riby). That seemed to go well, with engaged and perceptive questions from the audience. I also had a major grant submission deadline 30 minutes before my talk started, so that together with organising my contribution to the camouflage workshop made for a busy time. Thanks everyone for rallying round — I’ve been making a nuisance of myself texting various lab-members with pleas for help: “James can you go into town and get a 3D Blu-Ray”, “Paul can you pick up my poster on insect vision”, “Ghaith argh my camouflage-breaking stereo demo has broken, please fix it!” Thanks everyone for rallying round and keeping the various shows on the road.

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