Abu Dhabi Science Festival Training

By James Piercy



The training team! Photo:science made simple (All Rights Reserved)

Now in its third year, the Abu Dhabi science festival is absolutely massive. Over ten days they expect an audience of 120,000 people through the doors, seeing shows, events and taking part in hands-on workshops.

Looking after this many visitors takes a lot of staff, and science made simple have been involved in training hundreds of undergraduate students to run events and deliver workshop activities.

The training programme is coordinated by Edinburgh International Science Festival and led by Tom Pringle – aka Dr Bunhead. I am one of a team of the UK’s leading science communicators, drafted in to deliver the two day course which covers: the basics of effective engagement, jargon busting, teamwork, and time and resource management. The students get good advice, chances to see good examples of science communication and take part in practical exercises.

Plus there’s a mini-science festival with simple workshop exercises, which gives them the chance to practice starting and finishing on time, dealing with difficult situations and delivering the science behind the experiments.


Human cloning presented by students from The Petroleum Institute. Photo: science made simple (All Rights Reserved)

In ‘still science’ students pose for a photograph, to illustrate an important moment in the history of science, and the course ends with a one minute performance. These mini science shows also set the challenge of answering a child’s question, such as ‘If you sneeze with your eyes open do they fall out?” or “Can we generate electricity from farts?”

It is very rewarding to see a change in the students over the course of the two days. Often they are transformed from nervous, shy young people to confident communicators! It’s great to be part of such a good team and working on such an exciting project. It’s also nice to be in the sun in October! Having done the training, the next step is to return to Abu Dhabi in November, to perform at the main science festival.

Exciting stuff, I’ll keep you posted.


Heart transplant in action. Photo: science made simple (All Rights Reserved)

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