Mar 27
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Meet the Team: Our newest STEM Ambassador, Kathryn Pintus

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

Mar 13
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National Science and Engineering Week 2012

National Sceince and Engineering Week 2012 logo

With National Science and Engineering week officially upon us it is all go here in the ARKive office, and this year looks set to be our busiest (and best) NSEW yet!

We have 9 visits to schools scheduled over the next week and a half, from Bristol to Glastonbury, and Bath to Midsomer Norton, where we’ll be aiming to engage and inspire over 850 bright new minds!

Our STEM Ambassadors are busy putting the finishing touches to our new resources; including ‘The Power of Plastic’, a module examining the impact of human activity on the environment, and ‘Adaptation to Movement’ which explores how and why animals move and the extraordinary variety of ways in which they do so – and ties in neatly with this years NSEW theme ‘Our World in Motion’.

As if all that wasn’t enough, half of our STEM team will be travelling up to the NEC Birmingham for ‘The Big Bang Fair’ – the largest educational fair of its kind in the UK. Last year the event drew crowds of over 29,000 people during the three days, and this years event promises to be even larger. Our stand is in the ‘Go Global‘ Zone (GA13), so do please pop along and say hello if you’re attending the Big Bang later this week.

Big Bang Logo

Do you know which sharks can be found lurking in British Seas? Or which tree has seeds known as helicopters? Well, come along to our stand to tell us the answer or to find out for yourself. We’ll be running another brand new activity at the Big Bang – ‘ARKive’s Web of Wildlife’. We need your help to build our four food webs – whether you fancy trying to assemble the British Woodland or the African Savannah there are lots of fascinating facts to learn along the way.

ARKive Media Researcher Becky helping create ARKive's Web of WildlifeARKive's Web of Wildlife - in the makingWe’ll also be testing your skills on ‘Survival’ – our awesome endangered species app – how long will you survive?

Whatever you’re doing to celebrate National Science and Engineering Week we hope you have a brilliant time – we certainly can’t wait to get stuck in. Let us know what you’re up to, whether it’s at school or with friends and family.

Why not enter our Creative Climate Change Challenge and combine your scientific and creative skills by coming up with a unique way to communicate the problem of climate change and inspire change.

National Science and Engineering week runs from the 9th -18th March. The Big Bang fair is taking place at the NEC, Birmingham from 15th-17th March. Search for events in your area on the British Science Association website.

Laura Sutherland, ARKive Education Officer

Mar 8
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International Women’s Day

Every year on 8th March the world comes together to celebrate International Women’s Day. As National Science and Engineering Week begins tomorrow we have decided to look specifically at the important role women have played in science.

The ARKive Media team is made up of scientists, who spend their days researching endangered species, whether it is tracking down images or writing texts. So I decided to get them involved by asking the girls in the office about what got them into science, who their favourite female scientists are, and how our work in schools through STEMNET has enabled them to share their enthusiasm for science.

Photo of Claire Lewis, ARKive Media Researcher

Claire Lewis, ARKive Media Researcher

I’ve always been interested in science and biology appealed to me in particular at school because it is probably the clearest science to see “in action” so to speak – I’ve always had a fascination with how humans and animals function. At college I became interested in psychology too, and went on to do a joint honours degree in Psychology and Zoology at the University of Bristol, with a focus on animal behaviour.

My female science hero is probably Jane Goodall, for her dedicated study of chimpanzee behaviour, and of course her conservation work. Working at ARKive has given me the opportunity to go into schools to help engage and inspire the next generation with the natural world.

 

Hannah Mulvany, ARKive Species Text Author Intern (studying Conservation Biology at UWE)

Photo of Hannah Mulvany, ARKive Species Text Author Intern

My bookshelf at home is full of encyclopaedias and text books about the natural world, some people may think I’m a geek, but I just know what I like, and that happens to be biology! I like having a heightened sense of my surroundings and knowing why the world acts the way it does.

My ultimate female science hero is Dian Fossey. She believed so strongly in the conservation of gorillas that she spent her entire life fighting for it. A quote I have always found very inspiring is her very last diary entry, which said, “When you realise the value of all life, you dwell less on what is past and concentrate more on the preservation of the future”.

 

Photo of Becky Taylor, ARKive Media ResearcherRebecca Taylor, ARKive Media Researcher

Even when I was young my brother and I always watched natural history programmes in awe, so coupled with my passion for finding out how things work, I think I always knew I was going to be a biologist! I went on to do a biology degree at Bristol University and as soon as I graduated I ended up here working on the ARKive project.

One of the women who inspires me the most is Rosalind Franklin, who made significant contributions to the discovery of the structure of DNA. Unfortunately she is often overlooked and I think she deserves much more recognition, as it was her data that that was actually used to confirm the idea.

 

Becky Moran, Species Text Author

Photo of Becky Moran, ARKive Species Text Author

Biology was definitely my favourite subject at school, I think I’ve always been interested in the how? why? and what?! The stranger the better, and nowhere is stranger and more fascinating than the animal kingdom. My hero in science is Marion Petrie. She discovered that female peafowl preferred males with more eyespots, by snipping the eyespots off certain males’ tails!

After studying for a PhD in evolutionary biology, I came to work at ARKive, and as a STEM Ambassador I now particularly love taking as many strange animal facts into schools as possible. Hopefully this will inspire more women to enter the strange world of science!

 

Photo of Helen Roddis, ARKive Species Text AuthorHelen Roddis, Species Text Author

I loved science at school – particularly the fact that science lessons meant the chance to experiment! I liked that science is so varied, and so I chose to study Biology at university and have even gone on to study for a Masters degree in Conservation Biology. I would love to help dispel the myth that all scientists wear white coats – it’s certainly very rare that I wear mine!

Admittedly, I’m not the biggest fan of chemistry or physics, but one of the scientists that inspires me most is Marie Curie, and that’s not just because we share a birthday! She was a chemist and pioneered research on radioactivity. She received two Nobel Prizes for her work in physics and chemistry, and was the first female professor at the University of Paris.

Do you love science? Why not tell us why! Which women do you find inspiring (scientists or otherwise)? From all of the ARKive Media Team we wish you a very Happy International Women’s Day!

Laura Sutherland, ARKive Education Officer

Nov 27
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Meet the ARKive Team – Carolyn Hair

Carolyn Hair, ARKive Online Marketing OfficerI’ve been Online Marketing Officer for Wildscreen’s ARKive project for 18 months now. I work with Ellie Dart to help get the word about the wonders of ARKive and other Wildscreen initiatives out there. Whether that’s on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Google+, tumblr, Flickr, YouTube or anywhere else online. I love being able to share amazing photos, videos and facts every day to help raise awareness about endangered species.

What are you currently working on?

It’s all about Survival – our new endangered animal mobile app game. This fun, free game for iOS and Android launched last week which was just so exciting. I’ve been busy chatting to you all on social media about this quick-fire wildlife game, its cool characters and the facts you’ve learned.

Thanks for helping us to promote it too. We couldn’t reach as many people without you so keep tweeting and sharing it with your friends. You can also join in our Top Survivor Challenge. I’m updating our leaderboard on Facebook and tumblr with all your highest scores. Now I just need to work on my own Survival time – only 56s! So far the highest score is a magnificent 900s. Can you beat that? Tweet or post your top scores!

What animal skill would you most like to have?

The firefly squid’s skill of bioluminescence, the ability to produce light, would be pretty cool. What better way to add a bit of glitz and glamour to a night out and find your way home in the dark. Gymnastics aren’t my strong point, so I think I’d also like the acrobatic skills of the agile spider monkey.

Which three people would you invite to the ultimate dinner party?

Good dinner party guests need to bring conversation and giggles to the table, so let’s go for:

- Margaret Atwood to chat books and nature

- Pedro Almodóvar for Madrid and movie tales

- Joan Rivers for witty one-liners

Where in the world would you most like to go?

So many countries still to see but I’m going to opt for a trip from Russia to China on the Trans-Siberian express. There would be the chance of spotting wonderful wildlife, perhaps even a panda or a Przewalski’s horse. And the lure of romance and dinner carriage mysteries onboard just completes the picture! Where’s my ticket?

Which celebrity do you most look like?

Wouldn’t like to say…

What’s the best wildlife encounter you’ve ever had?

I don’t think I’ve had a wildlife encounter with real wow-factor…yet. I’d probably say spotting seals on the coast or deer in my back-yard where I grew up in Scotland.

What’s your favourite thing on ARKive?

So tough to choose one favourite so I’m going to cheat. Here are my current top 3:

Tell us an animal related joke

Q: What do you get if you cross a fish with an elephant?
A: Swimming trunks!

I think I need a bit of help with my animal jokes so post yours in the comments section. Surely you can do better!

Sep 30
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Meet the ARKive Team – Becky Taylor

Becky Taylor, ARKive Media ResearcherAs with everyone working at ARKive, I have always had a big passion for the natural world and conservation, probably caused by all the wonderful David Attenborough programmes I watched when growing up. This is why working as an ARKive Media Researcher is perfect for me, as it combines my love of the natural world, and belief that images and videos are a great way of raising awareness!

Before working at ARKive I studied Biology at Bristol University, UK.

What are you currently working on?

We have been updating some of our UK species profiles, so I have recently been selecting images of species such as the red deer and grey heron. I have also been editing some of the texts we receive from students as part of our ARKive and University Scheme.

What animal skill would you most like to have?

I think I’d like to have gills, or the ability to breathe deep underwater for long periods like the sperm whale, which can stay submerged for up to two hours and go to depths of up to an incredible 3,000 metres! That way I could have a look at the great unknown, deep underwater, and find out what weird and wonderful creatures we have yet to discover down there (probably crazy looking species like the frilled shark or anglerfish). Also, I’m quite small, so it would be nice to see what it is like to be about 17 metres long!

Which three people would you invite to the ultimate dinner party?

This is a tough one, and I am going to say David Attenborough even though that is what everyone says, but who wouldn’t want to hear his amazing stories at a dinner party? I would probably also invite Stephen Fry, as his autobiography was great, and Johnny Depp (for obvious reasons)!

Where in the world would you most like to go?

I was lucky enough to get to go to Australia and New Zealand earlier this year, which was absolutely amazing! I would love to go back to New Zealand again as it is so beautiful. I would also love to go to China, or go on safari in Africa to see all of the amazing wildlife, of course!

Which celebrity do you most look like?

I don’t think I really look like any celebrity to be honest! I am open to suggestions though….

What’s the best wildlife encounter you’ve ever had?

It probably has to be when I was living in a hut in the rainforest in Costa Rica, doing some volunteer work. Every morning I would wake to the sound of howler monkeys in the trees surrounding us which was amazing. We also spotted a mother humpback whale and her calf while we were there, and watched sea turtles lay their eggs on the beach at night, which were also incredible moments.

What’s your favourite thing on ARKive?

I really like the axolotl, as it always seems to be smiling! Either that or the sea otter, as they are so adorable when they carry their young on their bellies, and are very funny when they are grooming.

Tell us an animal related joke.

Deep within a forest a little turtle began to climb a tree. After hours of effort he reached the top, jumped into the air waving his front legs and crashed to the ground. After recovering, he slowly climbed the tree again, jumped, and fell to the ground.

The turtle tried again and again while a couple of birds sitting on a branch watched his sad efforts. Finally, the female bird turned to her mate.

“Dear,” she chirped, “I think it’s time to tell him he’s adopted.”

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