Guerrilla Science Workshop

What a weekend! Spent four days travelling back and forth between Abbots Ripton (site of the Secret Garden Party Festival) and various parts of London in the boiling heat and on very little sleep! Today I had to take some time off chilling by the Thames doing hyperbolic coral crocheting!

So how did the first Mutable Matter workshop go?

The above picture shows the tent in which the Guerrilla Science workshops took place. The tent was surprisingly well visited – sometimes it was so full that people had to squeeze in between other people. I really appreciated the variety of speakers – astrophysicists, neuroscientists, biologists, IT engineers, a ‘ROUGH SCIENTIST’ and a geographer… erm ;D – and it was cute to watch that some festival visitors take notes like in a proper lecture theatre! A lot of the visitors were not science students, but people who had science as a ‘hobby’ or used to like it at school. There were even some college students who were not sure what to do after their A-levels and wanted to find out what it was like to study science.

At 12 noon I was the first one on, and because there was quite a large group of people at once, I modified the workshop accordingly. Quite a number of families participated, and while their kids were messing around with the gooiest of substances, the parents, also kneading their plasticine or other materials, asked lots of questions. Some of these questions went into quite a bit of scientific detail. Luckily, a friend of mine happened to be there who had a natural talent for answering them, so I did not have to answer everything (thanks, Cos!). A maverick ‘red goo’ (see above picture) and a ring made from asteroid metal also provided unexpected material for discussion.

Afterwards, in true festival spirit, the table got hijacked by kids who started to experiment on the behaviour of various materials when you mixed them up with others… and also asked me lots of questions because they thought I was a scientist!

The afternoon was then spent listening to other presentations. Unfortunately I had to miss the dissection of the brain-shaped cake and the accompanying tea and talk, because I needed some dinner to prevent fainting in front of Grace Jones! On returning from my food hunt (ah, the dangerous wild chick peas!), I was interviewed about the connection between science and geography – what a trip! Afterwards, I was faced with my biggest musical heroine – and the organisers cut the electricity off halfway through the set, because of noise laws or something! I was extremely upsetting – Grace Jones should really be above the law – including the laws of science! Here, some guerrilla science would have been needed until this is finally established: electricity for the Queen of Cool!

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