Monday, 28 February 2011

The Hidden Science Map - update!

The Hidden Science Map is coming on in leaps and bounds. The designs for the site are looking very good and all the various science bodies that have been contacted about the project have been very supportive. It's a bit nerve wracking to start something 'national' (gulp) from scratch, so to have the mega-force that is the Manchester science community behind it from the off has felt very warm and fuzzy, big thank you.

There's a way to go before the map, with pins, appears for us (and more importantly young people in search of careers information) to play with, but now the questionnaires are all up for you in a rough format. There are separate questionnaires for working science people, students or those in training, retired science people, and organisations or teams within organisations. (Science in this context very much includes technology, engineering and maths.)

They are in rough format, just to collect information so that the map has pins when it launches.

If you'd like to put yourself or your organisation in pre-launch, have a photo ready to upload that you like, and remember you don't need to give your full or real name. Make a cup of tea (or coffee, anything really)
and settle for about half an hour to answer the questions that will form your profile on the map.

The questionnaires can be accessed from the Science Council website.

The other development last week is that the Norwich Research Park turned out in the cold for a very impressive 200 person 'Portrait' of themselves for the map. Massive thanks to all of them and to the BBSRC's Dee Rawsthorne who organised it, and Andrew Chapple who took this film of proceedings.

The picture will, eventually, be dotted with profile pins. Do not be daunted by this very special image! Place portraits of smaller work teams, in the warm, also very welcome. If you do make one of these place-portraits soon for your organisation/team please keep hold of it until further notice.

If you're planning a Big Picture like this, please get in touch, as it would be great to record the process and the final photography, and I can offer you some advice too, based on how your image will be finally presented.

Please get in touch with Katie Walsh if you have any questions.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Seeking Perfection

How far would you go to make yourself stronger, more intelligent or more beautiful? Would you get a chip in your brain? Would you be a guinea pig for stem cell therapy? These are some of the questions that young performers explored in the Seeking Perfection project, funded by the Wellcome Trust, last Autumn.

In the run up to the Festival in 2010, we worked with Nowgen, Contact and the University of Manchester to delve into the exciting mix of science, ethics and performance. Together, we worked with a group of young performers and science undergraduates to create a short, thought-provoking performance based on the theme of Human Enhancement.
First came a series of workshops with researchers and ethicists from Manchester and across the UK, including Dr Mark Gasson (the first man to be infected with a computer virus), covering the research into and bioethical concerns about Human Enhancement.

The performance was shown alongside a debate at the Zion Arts Centre.

 Over a period of 4 weeks, the group came together to debate, research and think about how researchers are pushing the boundaries of what it means to be human. Using the science and ethics as the theme and inspiration, the group created a short performace incorporating ideas from these discussions. A mix of acting, music, rap and circus skills, the performance brought together an exciting mix of performance styles. This was premiered on stage in the Manchester Arndale, the city's busiest shopping area, taking science to the streets and engaging people who might not attend a Festival event. The performance was then run alongside a debate chaired by Sarah Chan.

Most of the group who developed the final performances hadn’t studied science after their GCSEs but said that they were amazed by the research they discovered and really enjoyed getting to grips with science again.

“I’ve learned more about science… I didn’t really pay attention in school to science. Now I’ve got involved with this it’s opened my eyes more to where science is going to in the future.”

“I thought when I finished science at school I would never have to think about science again,
and I’ve learned it’s around us all the time and I should maybe pay more attention – I might blink and the world could be a completely different place.”

We captured the project on video which you can see below. It gives highlights from the project and the performance and interviews with some of the participants and project leaders.

Thanks to Andy Miah for the photo of the event at the Zion Arts Centre. You can see more on his Flickr profile.

If you would like a copy of the project evaluation for Seeking Perfection, please get in contact with Natalie Ireland, Festival Director.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

The Hidden Science Map – calling everyone working in science in Manchester!

Think back to when you were sixteen… what did you think you could do with a science degree? Did you think about becoming a brewer, bioethicist or a clown that uses the medium of balloons to explain geometry?

A new project led by the Science Council aims to uncover ‘hidden’ careers in STEM subjects so that teenagers can see that they are surrounded by science, at all levels and being done by all sorts of people, which will hopefully persuade them to continue to study science.

The Hidden Science Map aims to make a real variety of interesting STEM careers visible to teenagers.

How can I get involved?
This pilot project is developing a website, set to launch on 10 March 2011, which will present photos and profiles of people in ‘hidden’, surprising, interesting, in fact all STEM careers across the UK. These profiles will be dotted across a Google-based map, set to eventually cover the whole country but starting in a few cities with a strong science community, including Manchester.

The project leader, Katie Walsh, is looking for anyone and everyone who studied science, technology, engineering or maths post 18, and uses their qualification in their work life to upload a profile and picture.

The map will have another layer of organised portraits of STEM places of work, featuring lots of individual STEM workers there, if you’d like to plan and submit one of these for your organisation please get in touch with Katie, otherwise any individual STEM people should stand by for further info of how to upload a profile and picture when the Hidden Science Map is open for business in a week or so.

Katie Walsh can be contacted at the Science Council via email: