Events

Welcome back to Café Scientifique

After a year’s break the Wellington meeting of Café Scientifique has started with two successful events in July and August.

Jesse Bering, a Dunedin based American evolutionary psychologist, in Wellington to talk to students of CREW352: Creative Science Writing, packed out VK’s Comedy Bar in Dixon Street with his favourite research topics: sex, death and religion.

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Jesse at WORD Christchurch 2015

Bering has had enormous success with his honest and humorous style. He writes a regular column, Bering in Mind, for Scientific American online, and his books include The Belief Instinct, about the psychological origins of our desire to believe in something bigger than ourselves, and PERV, which explores the range of human sexual desire and experience. Bering told students in the CREW352 that like many of us his academic interests have followed what he is naturally curious about, and he hopes talking about it is helpful to people struggling with these issues.

Bering’s Café Scientifique event followed a fantastic evening with Alom Shaha, a teacher, science communicator and author, who recently visited New Zealand to be the keynote speaker at SciCon 2016, the annual conference for secondary science teachers.  Shaha has become a teacher of teachers and points out that he does not consider himself to be a scientist, but rather an expert in pedagogy.  We took advantage of his visit to invite him to address students of SCIE311: Science Communication. “The world needs teachers,” says Shaha, “as we are the ones who make the scientists”.   Shaha disagrees with the common expression that children are born scientists. “Science is a range of methods and tools, for a particular way of looking at the world.  It takes years to practice these tools in the way that scientists do,” he said to our SCIE 311 students.

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Courtesy alomshaha.com

As this was Shaha’s first time in New Zealand, he was keen to understand the religious, cultural and educational landscape of our country.  His book The Young Atheist’s Handbook is part memoir, part philosophy, and part permission for others to wrestle with doubts about their faith.  “Religion is passed on from parents to children at a time when they are not able to think critically for themselves.  Sometimes young people find that it’s just easier to go along with it,” he told his Café Scientifique audience.

Shaha has a new book due to be released in 2017 about science teaching, and we hope to see him back in New Zealand next year.  In the meantime you can check out his Demo: The Movie  a half hour movie encouraging science teachers to use demonstrations to inspire their students look closely at the world.

Café Scientifique is jointly hosted by the Wellington Branch of the Royal Society and Science in Society Group at Victoria University.  Find us on Facebook to hear about our upcoming events

Dispatches from 2016

It’s July! Over half way through 2016, and it’s been a busy time.  Rebecca has launched a new book Dispatches from Continent Seven and Rhian has grown her engagement team for the Deep South National Science Challenge.

BOOK LAUNCH

Rebecca’s new book Dispatches from Continent Seven: An Anthology of Antarctic Science was launched in March and is getting great rBookeviews.  Unlike most Antarctic anthologies, which focus on narratives written by explorers or writers, this book features accounts by scientists, including biologist George Murray Levick on the sexual habits of the Adélie Penguin, American geophysicist Robin Bell on the mountain ranges discovered beneath the Antarctic icecap, and Rhian’s own piece, Waiting for the Polar Sunrise, which she wrote based on her winter-over in Antarctica in 2002.

Rebecca talks about her book with Kim Hill on National radio and writes in more depth about her own Antarctic experiences on the Stuff news website.  You can also read an interview with Rebecca about Dispatches by Listener writer Mark Broatch. And because you wont want to share you can purchase your own copy from Awa Press.

Ice science

Dispatches featured in Ice Science held at The Embassy in March as part of New Zealand Festival Writers’ week.  While Antarctica is a “continent for science” it has also inspired many artists, writers and poets. Te Radar hosted a panel discussion of Antarcticans – including Rebecca and Rhian – about what drives people to work, and sometimes risk their lives, in this most inhospitable of environments.

Left to right Te Radar, Dr Rhian Salmon, Professor Tim Naish, Dr Rebecca Priestley

DEEP SOUTH NATIONAL SCIENCE CHALLENGE

The Deep South National Science Challenge is a $24M programme with a mission to enable New Zealanders to “adapt, manage and thrive in a changing climate”. Rhian sits on the management team and leads one of five programmes – on Engagement. This is a major action research programme that will not only deliver a range of engagement activities and research outputs, but is also serving to redefine how engagement with science is conceptualised and delivered in New Zealand.

By far the most substantial work Rhian carried out in 2015 was development of an Engagement Strategy for the Deep South Challenge. This received very positive reviews from an Independent Science Panel, and Board approval in December 2015. This strategy led to $1.68M being committed to work-streams in broad and public engagement, tailored engagement, training and capacity building in engagement, and programme evaluation and is already being used as a resource by several other Science Challenges.

Rhian’s leadership of this Challenge’s engagement programme presents an exciting opportunity to set new precedents in public engagement with science (PES) in New Zealand. By creating opportunities both for funding and capacity building in public engagement, and by setting ambitious engagement objectives – for example that require co-production and evaluation – this programme is substantially bridging the gap between PES theory and practice while also delivering tangible, innovative, and measurable, initiatives that enable New Zealanders to make more informed decisions about climate change. The impact of this programme will therefore be demonstrated not only in publications, but also in the outcomes of the activities that it funds, and associated capacity-building of all involved.

In order to deliver this ambitious programme, Rhian has recently established a “Deep South Challenge Engagement Team” at Victoria University, which includes a Partnerships Director, Engagement Coordinator, and Evaluation Coordinator.

SCIE COURSES

The new 300 level special topic: Antarctic Science and Culture has enjoyed its first semester as part of the SCIE course schedule and will be back in 2017. It may not be too late to enrol for Semester 2 courses in our programme.  But you better hurry!

SCIE212 Energy, Society and the Future

SCIE312 Revolutions in Science

SCIE311 Science Communication

Our courses are also available as continuing / professional education:

SCIE212 Energy Society and the Future

SCIE312 Revolutions in Science

SCIE312 Science Communication

 

New ‘Antarctica Online’ Course

Cliff interviews Nick Golledge, from the Antarctic Research Centre, while Rebecca hides inside her extreme cold weather gear.

Cliff interviews Nick Golledge, from the Antarctic Research Centre, while Rebecca hides inside her extreme cold weather gear.

Following Rebecca and Cliff’s successful trip to Antarctica in December 2014, the Science in Society team have been working hard to put together a new fully online course called ‘Antarctica Online’.

The course features lectures that were filmed on the ice and examines contemporary Antarctic scientific research, placing it in a wider scientific, historical, social and cultural context. Rebecca and Cliff gathered material over 10 days around Scott Base, McMurdo Station, and the Ross Island historic huts and three days at an Antarctic Research Centre field camp in the Transantarctic Mountains.

As well as filming lectures for their own modules—on Antarctic science history, and Geology and paleoclimate—they also filmed material for a third module, Constructing Antarctica, which will be led by Rhian, and Leon Gurevitch from the School of Design.

Most of us will never get to visit Antarctica, but this course hopes to offer the next best thing.

The course runs from Monday 28 September to Friday 6 November 2015 (6 weeks)

Fee: $120  (There are no prerequisites for this course)  ENROL HERE

 

 

HeLa play: Henrietta Lacks comes to New Zealand

helaThe University of Otago, Wellington, in partnership with the Science in Context group at Victoria University of Wellington, the British Council of New Zealand and Made in Scotland, is delighted to be hosting and sponsoring a theatrical performance of HeLa, an internationally award-winning one person play currently being toured through New Zealand.

Coming all the way from the UK, this solo show by Adura Onashile takes as its inspiration the true life story of Henrietta Lacks and the extraordinary life of the HeLa cell line. HeLa is an all-consuming story, intertwining genetic identity, social responsibility and current ethical debates about human tissue research and ownership …

In 1951 Henrietta Lacks walked into the coloured section of the John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore with a pain in her abdomen. A biopsy revealed a cancer that would kill her just months later. A cell sample taken without her permission was used as the raw material for some of the most important scientific discoveries of the past 100 years.
HeLa is an engaging exploration of the vast scientific progress made possible by the cells of one, unknown woman.

Adura Onashile is a writer and charismatic performer with diverse experience in political, verbatim, site-specific and physical theatre. She has worked with companies including the National theatre of Scotland, National Theatre, Urban Theatre Projects, Australia’s foremost site specific company, Chicago Shakespeare Company, St Anne’s Warehouse, The LIFT festival, The Clod Ensemble, The Belarus Free Theatre and Vox Motus. Adura has toured internationally with both the Foreign Commonwealth Office and the British Council.

“…a shocking slice of shamefully hidden history … theatrically bold in the telling, with Onashile’s heart-rending performance at its centre.” [The Herald]

“The fusion of video, music, monologue and physicality makes HeLa a feast for all the senses. This extraordinary, true story is treated with delicacy and astuteness …” [The Peoples Review]

This production was designed to be presented in a Medical School lecture theatre environment, so we are delighted to be hosting this only Wellington performance of the show in the Nordmeyer Lecture Theatre at the University of Otago, Wellington in Newtown. This will be a one night only performance on Thursday 16 October at 7pm, so make sure you book now as tickets will sell fast.  Bookings can be made online only at www.otago.ac.nz/heLa. Please note that tickets are non-refundable, but are transferable to another person.

HeLa is also showing in Christchurch (October 9, 10) and Auckland (October 21 – 25).

download flyer

Art, Science, and Theatre: three events coming up

Rebecca and I are excited to be involved with three upcoming events that explore the relationship between art and science, and public engagement with science.

On Saturday, October 11th, we’re both taking part in Breaking Ice: art-science symposium, part of NZ IceFest in Christchurch.
In this one day public symposium, 15 leading artists, scientists and designers will explore new ways of working together to create innovative solutions to urgent issues related to the environment, human health, and climate change.

On Tuesday, October 14th, 6pm, we are collaborating with Massey University College of Creative Arts and the Royal Society of New Zealand “At Six” events:
Re-integrating Art, Design and Science for a Future World
Featuring: special guests David Buckland, Natalie Jerimijenko, and Frances Whitehead

On Thursday, October 16th, 7pm, we are delighted to be bringing a one-woman play about “ethics, equality, and ownership of our DNA” to Wellington in collaboration with the University of Otago at Wellington. HeLa is showing in Wellington (October 16th), Christchurch (October 9, 10) and Auckland (October 21 – 25). We’re also excited that the playwright and star of the show, Adura Onashile, will be coming to speak to our Science Communication and Creative Science Writing students when she’s in town as well.

More about each of these events to come… but please come along!