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EiS June 2012_EiS September 2005 Issue 22/05/2012 13:23 Page 11

Inspirational! Not just a conference, but the birth of a new science festival ■

Steuart Cuthbert

Taking its theme from the Olympics, the 2012 ASE Scotland Annual Conference set out to ‘Celebrate Excellence’ in science. Inspiring teachers! Gillian Cooke, winter Olympian and 2009 Bobsleigh World Champion, got the programme off to a flying start with an inspirational presentation on the role that science plays in her sport. Over the two days, delegates were spoilt for choice with an exhibition, workshops, demonstrations and talks on topics such as Dangerous Demos for Technicians, Chemistry Tips and Tricks and Building Confidence in Primary Science. Several keynote addresses were held, including one from Professor Sue Black, President of ASE Scotland, and one of the world’s leading forensic anthropologists, on Inspiring pupils! – making future superstars of science. On Day 1, twenty pupils from local primary schools took part in a celebration event, the final part of a competition that had been running since early December. Pupils from 90 primary schools had been invited to identify and research their own ‘Superstars of Science’. The first part of the task was to send postcards from the scientists stating why they should be considered to be the greatest. Through role play, presentation and interview, the invited pupils had to persuade a panel of judges that their chosen scientist was the real superstar. During the final part of the event, pupils had to identify the ‘real scientist’ from a line-up, where the only member wearing a ‘white coat’ was a fishmonger. Dress for the real scientists included wet suits, arctic expedition gear and Victorian dress. The pupils met and were inspired by Gillian Cooke and several of today’s scientific stars, all of whom signed the pupils’ autograph books. The guests were hugely impressed by so many fantastic youngsters.

The parting shot from a pupil as he boarded his bus: ‘I wish that today hadn’t happened so that I could do it all again tomorrow’.

Inspiring the public! – the ‘Science Fun Factory’ On Day 2, over 1,000 members of the public enjoyed participating in a family science fun day. With contributions from Sci-Fun, the science centres, Universities of Dundee, Edinburgh and the West of Scotland, Historic Scotland, the Royal Observatory Edinburgh, TechfestSetpoint , IoP and RSC, there were over 100 hands-on, hair-raising, illuminating and engaging activities for ‘children’ of all ages. From building medieval castles to launching rockets; investigating snails to making meteors; digging up dinosaurs to stargazing, there was something to interest everybody. To quote a couple of happy customers: ‘We wish to thank you for a splendid children’s day on Saturday. The two grandsons were enthusiastic, educated and entertained.’ ‘You have made a lot of children very happy today...brilliant!’

Steuart Cuthbert is ASE Field Officer for Scotland.


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EIS June 2012 Review