Day 7 in the Brainwaves Camp…


…Well, since we launched the website, anyway. As a group we may be fairly new to the game, but we’ve actually been together since last November, so I just thought I’d tell you all about our pilot event, the event that gave us a taste of the engagement game – The Christmas Lecture.

It’s amazing what a few weeks of concerted organisation, a great team, incredibly helpful people and a lot of footwork and coffee can achieve. In 6 weeks we went from having our idea to making it a reality.

The lecture was held on a very cold December evening in the St George’s Church Lecture theatre, a gorgeous building in the heart of the central Mappin campus that was refurbished as a lecture theatre, with all the mod cons to ensure a great show. A variety of people battled through the cold and snow to listen to Professor Adam Finn talk on the subject of Vaccines. From school children who are hoping to go into medicine and dentistry to families wanting to know more on the subject. We even had some children signed up to the Children’s University programme along who gained credits for their attendance. The lecture, sponsored by the medical products and services company B Braun, covered everything from the development of vaccines, to how they work and the myths that have been abound in the media. It even included an explanation of the scientific principle of how a hypothesis is tested then confirmed, or otherwise. The audience were able to participate in this by being part of the study themselves with some pretty nifty participation pads.

After the talk the audience moved from the lecture theatre to another grand venue – Mappin Hall, for a post-lecture reception. This included festive drinks and snacks. Mince pies were graciously provided by the lab supplies company Starlab, and a book corner with science books for kids from local book shop Rhyme and Reason provided book vouchers for winners of the children’s quiz. This was a great opportunity for attendees to sup on some mulled wine, chomp down on some Quality Streets and discuss with one another and Adam Finn what they’d learnt from the lecture. The food and fine wine company on Ecclesall Street here in Sheffield also provided a bottle of Prosecco that went to the winners of the bake-off we held to help contribute nibbles to the reception.

The event got a mention in the local paper, and scientist and radio present Noel Sharkey hosted an interview with Adam Finn on local BBC radio. We even recorded and created a DVD available for anyone who wants to watch it. So the message wasn’t just for those lucky to attend the event. So all in all, it was a success. And not only did it come off (almost) without a hitch, but we offered all of this for free! There was a lot of behind the scenes work that went in to organising all of this and getting together the money needed to put it on for nothing. We wouldn’t have been able to do it without the support of the University and its staff, so a massive thank you to all of you.

So if you weren’t able to attend this lecture, don’t worry, the Christmas Lecture will be back this year, but bigger and better! We learned a lot of lessons on this one, which we’re taking forward as we organise more events and expand. This year we have quite a lot of events in the pipeline, but now we have a bigger team to support us and make the events all the more memorable. So please do look at our events section. Next up is the Science in the media workshop in April, so get signed up to that, spaces are strictly limited – and yup, it’s free of charge!

Bye from the Brainwaves team, until next time!

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