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Academics take part in Norwich Science Festival to inspire and educate the general public

Fascinating live science experiments, short talks, and panel discussions led by Birkbeck scientists educated visitors on the human brain.

The team at Norwich Science Festival

A team of 22, ranging from secondary school children to senior academics from Birkbeck and three other universities, recently led a number of events at Norwich Science Festival, an annual celebration of science that offers hands-on science activities for all ages and levels of knowledge.   

The events were centred around the Me, Human project, founded in 2019, that explores who humans are and how they are connected to the natural world. Me, Human is a multi-institutional project for citizen science research, public engagement and mentorship, with team members based at Birkbeck; University of Westminster; City, University of London and University of Kent (Canterbury). 

Live science experiments, short talks, and panel discussions by experts inspired visitors by giving them insights into the cutting-edge research being done into the evolution of human social and communication abilities. A series of fun experiments revealed to visitors how their two brain hemispheres affect movements and decisionsand visitors came away with an understanding of how ancient vertebrate brain traits still underpin some of our most human unique behaviours.  

Professor Gillian Forrester, Director of the Me, Human project and Professor of Comparative Cognition at Birkbeckcommented: “It was an absolute privilege to share our research with the public. Between our Live Science experiments, Soapbox Shorts and our sold out Psyched! show, we estimate we saw over 1000 visitors in two days. We want to thank Natalie Bailey, Director of Norwich Science Festival, and Professor Ben Garrod for getting us involved – and we cannot wait for next year! 

Birkbeck academics who also attended the event were: Professor Natasha Kirkham, Dr Simon Green and Dr Georgina Donati from the Department of Psychological Sciences; Dr Lisanne Schroer and Dr Brittney Chere from Birkbeck’s Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development; and Cosmin Stamate from the Department of Computer Science and Information Systems.  

Birkbeck’s involvement at Norwich Science Festival form part of a programme of public engagement events on the Me, Human project. This May, Birkbeck’s Science Saturdays, a programme of free online talks for the general public, included Professor Forrester delivering a talk on ‘Left brain, right brain: the evolution of our divided brain, and the National Saturday Club made all talks available to students aged 13 to 16 across the UK. In JulyProfessor Forrester held a public engagement event at Twycross Zoo to educate the general public about great apes and the research project.  

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