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MOAC/CBC - Science Communications Course

This was a three day joint event between MOAC and Imperial College's Chemical Biology Centre (CBC) as part of the Doctoral Training Centres' provision of transferable skills. It was held in London, Thursday 12 to Saturday 14 January 2006.

The course was run by Gareth Mitchell, a lecturer in Imperial College's Science Communication Group and science journalist for the BBC World Service's technology programme Go Digital.

The TV Show

We were based at Imperial College's own media recording suite for the TV part of the course, where we produced two "as live" scientific panel discussions in the style of the BBC's Question Time. Technical support was provided by Colin Grimshaw and Martin Sayers from Imperial College Media Services.

For each program we had a host with three guests on screen, plus three camera operators, and in the booth a director and vision mixer.

Having done some preparation in advance, both the MOAC and CBC groups opted to discuss Stem Cell Research, following the recent disgrace of Korea's Dr Hwang Woo-suk - in particular ethical concerns, and the process of peer review.

The MOAC group on camera, and behind it:

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The CBC group's turn in the studio:

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The Radio Show

For the second day of the course, after reviewing yesterday's TV footage, we embarked on the purer medium: Radio.

The students were split up into two new groups, and roving reporters equipped with microphones and mini-disc recorders to capture interviews and sound-bites.

Group One captured the views of Imperial College students on being forced to wear their university ID cards in public (apathetic), and an interview with Prof. Alain Gringarten (Chair of Petroleum Engineering and director of the Centre for Petroleum Studies at Imperial College).

Group Two's news hounds headed off to the Houses of Parliament to try and catch an MP. This proved difficult at 4:30 on a Friday afternoon, and unfortunately their persistence did not pay off.

After a quick trip to the editing suite everyone headed off to Studio S6 at the BBC's Bush House for the actual "broadcast" (available to download) where the studio manager Simon Morecroft looked after us:

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The first team, ready to go with their director Hiroko & studio manager Simon Morecroft looking on from behind the glass:

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The second team, getting ready:

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The view from the other side of the glass:

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Radio Group One - Science Impact

Contents:

  • Is Britain about ready for an oil change? Fossil fuels will soon reach "peak production" and will then be in shorter and shorter supply. Includes a short interview with Prof. Alain Gringarten (Chair of Petroleum Engineering and director of the Centre for Petroleum Studies at Imperial College).
  • Is Big Brother watching you? ID cards at Imperial College and for the UK as a whole.
  • If a cat is cloned in a box and no-one is around to see it, does it still meow? A light hearted piece on cloning Schrodinger's cat, and the ethical issues this raises. Featuring telephone guest Alexis Rutherford, as the physicist behind this.

Radio Group Two - Two brains to fit it all in

Contents:

  • The hot topic of global warming
  • The explosive issue of nuclear power
  • The exodus of brain power from the UK, including the problem of lower student interest in science at schools and universities. Special guest Prof. Alison Rodger (MOAC Centre Director).
  • The potential impact of bird flu reaching the UK

With original music composed and performed by Adair Richards.

Download the Programmes

Should you wish to, you can download the radio shows. This is for personal use only, the files are not to be re-distributed or used for any purpose (in whole or in part).

Please note that stances taken and views expressed shouldn't be taken seriously. They do not necessarily reflect the views of any of the organisations involved, and due to some role-playing may not even represent the participants' own views.

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