I helped out last Friday at the Science in the square event organized by the University of Exeter Cornwall Campus. A big marquee tent in Event square in Falmouth hosted loads of displays, talks and activities explaining the work done by biologists at our campus to children and the public in general. I joined the team of Professor of Animal Ecology Stuart Bearhop in the ‘marine zone’ (there was also a ‘bone zone’, ‘live zone’, ‘mini beast zone’, ‘earth zone’ and ‘craft zone’) . This involved collecting critters at 6:00 in the morning (low tide) and setting up various displays for instance explaining that it is the males who are pregnant in the worm pipefish and that barnacles are related to shrimp, but glued to the rock on their backs and sweeping their legs to filter plankton.
It was fun to explain the biology of these animals to kids and their parents and the event was very well attended and a great success. (see for some more pictures on the rock pool inhabitants we caught my rock pooling blog An Bollenessor.) My experience in helping out in the marine zone gave me some ideas about possible displays that could form a cool ‘microbe zone’ next year, and I plan to have a chat with some colleagues about that possibility. Bacteria and viruses are very alien to us, which makes it challenging to explain their biology, but also makes them especially deserving of attention at this event.