We’re just one week away now from the our Annual General Meeting where myself and our Director, Martin Turner, will be standing down from our positions, opening the doors for Science Brainwaves to take in new blood and boldly go where… well, the sky is the limit!
Evolution is such a wonderful thing. We hope that from its humble beginnings, ‘Brainwaves will continue to grow and change. We thought now would be a good time to write a review of how things have gone, to give anyone interested in possibly getting involved, or just the curious, an insight to how far we’ve come and how far we could go.
At the absolute heart of everything ‘Brainwaves has been involved in over the last year, has been an enthusiasm for science, and the passion to share that with anyone we possibly can. We started off as a group of four PhD students, organising events we thought would be of interest to the general public. Now we function as a twig of the South Yorkshire British Science Association branch, and have our own committee. It’s been a massively steep learning curve, trying to provide the best opportunities for our peers to develop their communication, networking and project management skills whilst providing inspiring events for kids and adults alike, but we’ve made progress in massive leaps and bounds.
In the 2010-2011 academic year, we’ve implemented new strategies to help enthuse people to get involved, providing opportunities that many people are after, whilst still keeping our flexible and creative ethos alive; we believe that whatever people want to do, they should get a chance to gain that experience. If, like me, you just want to spread the joy then come talk to us! On top of that, there’s many very important reasons why communicating the work scientists, engineers and medics do is a good idea, from informing the public so they can make decisions with all the evidence to hand to inspiring the next generation to fuel the continued march of the progress of science.
We organised a successful Christmas lecture on the subject of weird physics; a hard-sell, but picked up by local press and we got a lot of great, positive feedback (70% of respondents rated it good or excellent overall). In March we put on Sheffield’s first ever “Science of Cocktails” night, which was a massive success. It was more popular than we could have imagined! In the meantime, we’ve been helping to provide fun hands-on science experiments for kids, students, and families for example, at the Dream Bigger Dreams event in the winter gardens and doing heart dissections in the Thackray museum throughout February half-term; a 6th Form College in Grimsby triple science open day; DNA extractions with a scout troop; some science arts-and-crafts with Art in the Park, and a science-themed club night in the students’ union. We have yet more outreach days that we are helping organise, coming up in the future, not to mention other projects that are in the pipeline, such as a debate on access to health research in collaboration with librarians from the university and a “student experience” day, in conjunction with the Discover US programme from the University’s outreach team, and so much more! There’s so much to get stuck in to, and not only that, but we’re always happy to hear ideas from our volunteers!
All this PLUS the website, which has grown and matured – we’ve consolidated our blogs, spruced up the news section and are working on a podcast with a local amateur film-maker. We’re always working on making the website as interesting and useful as possible, with several ideas in the pipeline. And why not follow us on Twitter (@SciBrainwaves) or find us on Facebook to keep up to date on new events, or even tell us what you think!
And now it’s left for me to say goodbye and thank you! ‘Brainwaves has been supported massively by our colleagues in the British Science Association – especially Pam Buchan, regional manager. We’ve been awarded funding from the Outreach, widening participation and knowledge transfer funds from the University, The Alumni Foundation, the Institute of Physics, and B Braun, as well as having received support from Star Labs, Kit Locker and childrens’ bookshop Rhyme and Reason, not to mention the very kind donations from organisations we’ve worked with and of course, the public! We’ve also been supported by and worked with Museums Sheffield and the Thackray Medical History Museum in Leeds.
I for one have had the most amazing time working on ‘Brainwaves. It’s been challenging, but fun, and so satisfying; Everyone has been absolutely amazing. You all know who you are. I can whole heartedly recommend getting involved! So come along, 5th April, 5.30pm in F2 lecture theatre in Firth Court.