Have you ever wondered what would happen if a dinosaur met one of the animals that are alive today? Hundreds of local schoolchildren were encouraged to wonder out loud about this and lots more fascinating animal facts at a special event held at Swansea University on 12th July.
Six hundred pupils, aged from 11 to 13, were special guests of the science outreach projects S4 and Oriel Science, at the Taliesin Arts Centre; invited to Science presenters’ Lizzie Daly and Ben Garrod’s ‘Best Animal Facts’ show.
The show took the form of an animal ‘Top Trumps’ game with the presenters exploring how today’s species compare to prehistoric creatures, before the audience was given a chance to vote on the best animal, living or extinct, in different categories. The final decision came down to a judge’s panel of teachers, pupils and special guests!
Presenters Lizzie Daly and Dr Ben Garrod are both biologists who work all over the world, on conservation and research projects. Lizzie is a regular wildlife expert on CBBC and Cbeebies, and on BBC and National Geographic productions, whilst Ben has presented a range of television programmes and series, including Secrets of Bones, Attenborough and the Giant Dinosaur and The Day the Dinosaurs Died, and is a Teaching Fellow at Anglia Ruskin University.
Pupils and teachers in the audience were invited to the ‘Best Animal Facts’ show by two of Swansea University’s science outreach projects, S4 (Swansea University’s Science for Schools Scheme) and Oriel Science, the university’s science centre project.
The youngsters taking part came from Dylan Thomas Community School, Cefn Hengoed Community School, the Upper Afan Valley Federation of Schools, Pentrehafod, Bishop Vaughan Comprehensive and the South West Wales Reaching Wider Partnership.
Professor Mary Gagen, said “’We were absolutely delighted to have Ben and Lizzie here; we can achieve a lot in the classroom and lab in terms of inspiring young people to get out there and explore science but science presenters really boost pupils’ enthusiasm with a show like this. Ben and Lizzie’s passion, expertise and proud geekiness is absolutely contagious, and it was so inspiring to see our audience going away excited, chatting about the show and thinking about ways to get more science into their lives!”
Also watching the show were special guests Cabinet Secretary for Education Kirsty Williams and AM Julie James, along with University Pro Vice-Chancellor Professor Martin Stringer.
Professor Matt Jones, Head of the College of Science at Swansea University, said “The College of Science is a community that is excited about the transforming nature of science and is focussed on involving as many hands, hearts and voices in shaping the future together. I was delighted that Cabinet Secretary for Education and Leader of the House were able to attend and get to see first-hand the impact outreach work has on young people’s enthusiasm for science and their drive to pursue science in their education.”
And to continue the legacy of learning after the show, each of the schools taking part were presented with a copy of Ben’s latest book series ‘So You Think You Know About… Dinosaurs?’ for their school library.
Pupils, guests and teachers alike enjoyed the show hugely with teacher Jo Ralph from the Cymer Afan Comprehensive School saying “It was a brilliant show, the pupils were engaged throughout and they loved the interaction between the two presenters. All they talked about on the way home was the animals they had learned about. The arguments about which were the ‘best’ continued long into the journey!”
Professor Mary Gagen, added “The show was all about making science as engaging as possible and making it clear to young people that they can pursue science in their education and careers.
“Events like these are crucial in helping us get that message across and we are so grateful for the ongoing support we receive from schools, the community, experts like Ben and Lizzie and the Welsh Government who have contributed funding to both S4 and Oriel Science.”