Mar 27

When the newest member of the ARKive Media Team, Kathryn Pintus, signed up to be a STEM Ambassador in January, little did she know that she’d soon be knee deep in monkey posters and surrounded by thousands of children at the Big Bang Fair. We find out how she ended up there and what she thought of her first National Science and Engineering Week.

I’m not quite sure what I expected upon my return from holiday, although Laura had warned me that it would be busy…perhaps I had imagined a short period of easing gently back into work as I shook off my jet-lag after two weeks away? As it turns out, this was not an option!
National Science and Engineering Week Logo

Instead I was greeted with a flurry of activity and excitement; it was National Science and Engineering Week, which meant all hands on deck to create and implement some fantastic activities for students across the Bristol, Bath and Somerset region.

The ARKive office was buzzing with our STEM Ambassadors finalising presentations, carrying out some last-minute research, and showing off their creative skills as they designed and built a variety of funky-looking habitats for our ‘Web of Wildlife’. Despite my body and brain not quite knowing what time it was, I thoroughly enjoyed being able to throw myself into the foray and contribute to the education of young scientific minds!


The Big Bang Fair

I had never celebrated National Science and Engineering Week before, so this was an interesting first for me. Various trips into schools had been planned, but the main event of the week was The Big Bang Fair 2012, held at the NEC in Birmingham. Our fearless yet fun STEM leader Laura was asked to be a judge for the National Science and Engineering Competition at the last minute, so I stepped in to help out on the ARKive stand for a day, and what a day it was!

ARKive stand at The Big Bang Fair 2012

Kathryn demonstrating the Survival app to eager students

I entered the massive exhibition hall at the NEC, and was amazed at the variety (and brilliance!) of the stands and events there – everything from a fork-lift truck simulator to a disease investigation unit. It was truly impressive.

As the doors opened, the first few early-bird students filtered past, glancing at the ARKive stand and others before scuttling off with their friends, free monkey poster in hand. “It’s rather quiet in this place; this is going to be a piece of cake,” I thought rather naively. Half an hour later, the rest of the team and I were perfecting our multi-tasking skills as we rolled posters, demonstrated the website, and explained all about ARKive to hordes of students and teachers all at the same time.

ARKive's Web of Wildlife

Claire helping students work out the Web of Wildlife

Helen demonstrating the ARKive website

Helen demonstrating the ARKive website










We had a fantastic response from Big Bang visitors, and lost count of the number of people we spoke to about our work at ARKive and all the wonderful images, videos and information we have on the site for them to use. The day whizzed by in a blur of eager young faces, Survival scores and colourful uniforms, and soon it was time for me to head home.


School Sessions

Yet my time on the road had not come to an end at Birmingham. The very next day, I teamed up with Becky Moran and travelled to Bath to teach the students of St Gregory’s Catholic School about ‘Adaptation and Movement’.

Adaptation slide image

A slide from the Adaptation with Movement presentation

All of the groups we taught were enthusiastic and engaged, and came up with some fantastically artistic and imaginative creations during our ‘Design a Species’ exercise. My personal favourite was Esmerelda-Lily-Pad, a colourful critter with plenty of awesome adaptations to life in the water.

Design a Species image

Esmerelda-Lily-Pad: one of the many wonderful creations by students at St Gregory's

Five teaching sessions and a school dinner later, it was home-time for Becky and I. Exhausted, but pleased, we headed back to ARKive to prepare for the next lot of STEM sessions the following week. No rest for the wicked, but certainly worth it and oodles of fun!

To find out more about what the ARKive team got up to at The Big Bang Fair, check out Laura’s blog.

We will soon be adding our new ‘Adaptation and Movement’ teaching module to our wide range of educational resources.

Kathryn Pintus, ARKive Species Text Author