Category Archives: Feature

Speaking to… Michael and Praveen: The Pint of Science Festival!

Pint-of-science-science-communicationThis feature podcast is part of a series of interviews with science communicators about science communication. Today we are Speaking to… Michael and Praveen about the Pint of Science Festival!

This week, London, Cambridge and Oxford are hosting a new science communication festival: the Pint of Science Festival from the 14th to the 16th of May!

I caught up with Michael and Praveen, two of the organisers, to find out a little bit more about it

You can keep up with the events on Twitter by following @pintofscience


Guest post: Dancing in Science Class

Dancing-in-science-communicationAlanna Orpen is studying Science Communication Msc at Imperial College. In this post she explores dancing in science and how the two could be integrated; how can dance help encourage those who are normally put off by science to enjoy it in a new way. She has also explored this subject on Refractive Index.

Science is one of the key learning areas within the educational curriculum, valued of great importance in every child’s life to aid them in their quest of exploration and to develop their understanding of the world around them. Stereotypically, science is a subject that children consider ‘boring’, but by adopting a suitable method, teachers should be able to encourage an atmosphere of enthusiasm and curiosity to stimulate a pupil’s interest.

Children learn in many ways, yet traditional schooling relies on a limited range of learning and teaching methods. The classroom and book-based learning caters for linguistic and visual learners, while kinaesthetic learners, who prefer learning using their body and hands in physical activity, struggle to understand class material. It is important to cater for all learning styles and abilities, thus innovative educators in America concerned with improving student achievement are seeking ways to create rigorous, relevant and engaging curriculum.

Dance and science may appear to be of two different worlds. The former considered merely as a form of exercise and entertainment, inhabited by artists and athletes, while the latter viewed as an academic discipline and a systemic enterprise, inhabited by researchers seeking to build and organise knowledge. However, a new movement has arisen, where dance and science unite raising students’ interest and helping them to achieve greater levels of competency in understanding scientific concepts. Teachers are leaping out of the classical routine to perform chemical ballets and explore the solar system through interpretive dance. They are realizing that dance is a powerful non verbal form of communication, which can be an important educational tool that not only motivates and encourages students, but is proving to be an excellent vehicle that promotes deeper understanding through experiential learning.

Dr Zafra Lerman, a former science professor at Columbia College in Chicago, has examined how a dance partnership with chemistry can enhance student comprehension. The chemical bond has become one of the most attractive subjects for dance projects, which helps students learn the chemical concepts as well as retaining the information longer than by traditional teaching methods. Similarly, a former science teacher, Jane Burke, helped children at Mount Everett School in Massachusetts dance their way to understanding. For two weeks, she shared her classroom with a professional dancer to explore the abstract ideas behind chemical reactions through movement. The students jumped, twirled and embraced one another to explore ionic, covalent and metallic bonding and the types of chemical reactions.

By depicting the subject through dance, the students reached a depth of exploration that would not have occurred in the regular classroom setting. Many found it helpful to think about the concepts in a different way, as dancing out the reactions provided a means to picture the invisible. The connection between the choreography and the science enabled the students to visualize the concepts that they originally found challenging.  Therefore, this shows that dance can aid in the deeper conceptualization of knowledge by providing ‘a way of doing’.

The integration of dance into core academic science classes is a creative and innovative approach that is gaining a foothold in public schools around America. Fostering imaginative and abstract thinking through movement helps students of all ages grasp a broad spectrum of scientific concepts, where primary school children enjoy dancing through the stages of photosynthesis and the water cycle, while more advanced students dance out chemical reactions.  These teachers who are pushing beyond the boundaries of traditional disciplines are witnessing the positive results of this interdisciplinary approach. The success of dancing in science class projects in America highlights the potential of integrated curriculum to act as a bridge to increase student engagement and achievement. Could the Americans be setting a trend that other nations will shortly be adopting? Will dance manage to waltz its way into British school laboratories?

Image credit: Tony Ingram bboyscience

Credit NASA

Speaking to… Dr Phil Marshall and the launch of Space Warps!

Credit NASA

This feature podcast is part of a series of interviews with science communicators about science communication. Today we are Speaking to… Dr Phil Marshall about citizen science project Space Warps

Today sees the launch of a new citizen science project called Space Warps! I spoke to Dr Phil Marshall from the astrophysics department at Oxford University to find out a little more.

Apologies for the not so great sound quality!

Also, keep your eyes and ears peeled for some more science communication from Dr Phil Marshall.

You can find out what is happening in this project on Twitter at @spacewarps

Speaking to… Catherine Ross from Head Squeeze


This is part of a series of interviews with science communicators about science communication. Today we are Speaking to… Catherine Ross

Head Squeeze is a new science communication YouTube channel, exploring science, culture, and anything else cool that is discussed around the water cooler.

Working with people like Huw James, Fran Scott and many other talented science communicators and scientists, The Head Squeeze team put out a great variety of clips every week for the year of 2013.

By being on YouTube rather than on TV, it has a great ability to interact with it’s audience.

I spoke to Catherine Ross, the series producer, to find out a little bit more.

During the interview, Catherine mentions the new video with Martin Archer, asking whether or not Iron Man could really exist as Iron Man III is coming out this Thursday. Check it out!

You can find out what the Head Squeeze team are up to by following them on Twittter at @TheHeadSqueeze

Speaking to… Professor Jim Al-Khalili

Professor Jim Al-Khalili

This feature podcast is part of a series of interviews with science communicators about science communication. Today we are Speaking to… Professor Jim Al-Khalili

Professor Jim Al-Khalili is a bit of a specialist when it comes to balancing his time between research and doing plenty of science communication. I went to visit him at the University of Surrey for a chat to see just how he does it.

You can follow Jim on Twitter at @jimalkhalili and follow his many activities on his website.

Speaking to… Andrew Cohen: Science on TV

Andrew Cohen
Image Credit: The IET

This feature podcast is part of a series of interviews with science communicators about science communication. Today we are Speaking to… Andrew Cohen

Making a career in television production is not an easy feat, but in the 18 years that Andrew has been in science communication he has gone from working for the BBC as a runner to head of the Science in BBC Vision department.

I went to meet Andrew Cohen at the new BBC Broadcasting House to find out just how he did it.