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Norwich Research Park, Doctoral Training Partnership PhD student training event – March 2019

This year we were happy to be invited back to run another science communication workshop for the Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) PhD students on the Norwich Research Park.  We introduced different types of outreach approaches and discussed the importance of engagement for scientists and society.  Then we presented the SAW initiative to the group of early stage career scientists who all enjoyed taking part in a mini lab-themed SAW project. We hope we provided inspiration for them to be creative in their approach to communicating science and demonstrated the benefits of participating in outreach events and projects like SAW, throughout their research career and beyond.


Botanic Gardens Education Network Annual Conference; Talking Plants – November 2018

This year’s bgen annual conference was hosted by Cambridge University’s Botanic Garden and the Sainsbury Laboratory and focussed on communicating plant science and research.  We were invited along to present an interactive SAW workshop.

Conference attendees included specialists from various botanic gardens across the country, the Eden project, Gatsby Plant Science Education Programme (GSEP) and LEARN CitSci. Participants in our session were given a concise snapshot into the cross-disciplinary approach we use, drawing examples from previous plant-themed SAW events and projects such as our ‘Wonderful Wheat’ activity first showcased at the Science of Farming day at the Norfolk Show ground.


PlaMatSu science communication workshop – September 2018

Plant-Inspired Materials and Surfaces (PlaMatSu) is an Innovative training network that is enabling nine PhD students to work at four leading European Universities, in the field of bio-inspired materials. Collectively they study the development, structure and properties of plant cuticles and aim to create novel plant-inspired materials and surfaces.

As part of the programme, the PhD students have been given the exciting task of designing an exhibition to tell the story of their work to the public.  The SAW team were invited along to deliver a training day as part of their outreach workshop by Dr Chantal Helm at Cambridge University Botanic Garden to inspire ideas and help get the creative juices flowing.

Our bespoke workshop explored the use of images, language and art in science communication. Typical of all SAW workshops, the day began with a science session and then a writing session led by Mike O’Driscoll, designed to help the students think about creative use of text in their exhibition, followed by an art session led by Chris Hann that helped them explore use of different materials and ways to engage with the public through collaborative art activities. The day culminated with an idea generating and sharing session.

With such a broad scope of possibilities, the teams main challenge will be to focus on delivering their key messages in a concise and engaging way. Initial ideas involved the use of a purpose-built garden room to house the exhibition and to display the groups work under two headings: repel and attract. The staff at the botanic garden will continue to support the students as they develop their ideas for the final exhibition.



SAW Training Workshop – Norfolk 2012

Scientists, artists and writers from the University of East Anglia, Norwich University College of the Arts, John Innes Centre and the Institute of Food Research came together with local teachers to participate in the new SAW training programme. The training workshops were led by SAW project manager and scientist Jenni Rant, SAW’s lead artist Chris Hann and lead writer Mike O'Driscoll. Teams were formed so trainees from different disciplines could work together to experience the developmental process of SAW by designing a SAW project which they delivered in the following local schools: Town Close School, Scarning Primary, Lionwood Junior, Tunstead Primary, Freethorpe Primary and Wicklewood Primary School.

The programme provides an in-depth guide to SAW’s development and philosophy, gives non-teachers an opportunity to work on creative collaborations to disseminate their research, and enables teachers to learn the SAW process and host a SAW project. A SAW handbook and access to the SAW practitioners database is provided so teachers can choose to use SAW as an ‘in-house’ teaching tool or to work with SAW-trained professionals from diverse backgrounds on future projects.

Please contact us if you would like to participate in a SAW Training Workshop.



SAW at Science in Norwich Day – March 2012

SAW joined a host of other scientists from the Norwich Research Park and local and national organisations for a special free science event at the Forum in Norwich on Saturday 24 March. There were a wide variety of hands- on activities and demonstrations plus several science shows. SAW provided science, art and writing activities on the theme of light. Dr Jenni Rant from SAW was joined by natural science students Matthew Henderson, Hannah Bloomfield and Kurt Lee from the University of East Anglia, Chris Hann led the art with the help of Paul Osborne and the writing was run by Mike O’Driscoll, Elspeth Latimer and Anna Reckin.

Participants explored why the sky looks blue with our ‘sky in a box’ tool, played with prisms to separate light into the different colours and made colour wheels for spinning. The well-known mnemonic  ‘Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain’, used for remembering the colours of the rainbow, was transformed in a writing activity and permanent rainbows were made using a combination of water, black paper and clear nail varnish.

See photos, poetry and artwork from this project.



The SAW Challenge

This initiative aims to help break down barriers between disciplines at postgraduate level. As a partner in the Beacons for Public Engagement Programme awarded to the University of East Anglia, SAW set up the event to engage postgraduate students from different disciplines and promote cross-fertilisation. Students from the faculties of Sciences, Arts and Humanities, and Social Sciences took part in a one day workshop where they explored the theme of chaos and order.

See photos, poems and artwork from the SAW Challenge day.



The Forum Millennium Library, Norwich, Norfolk - March 2007

Using breathtaking images from Norwich’s Earth from the Air exhibition, a large-scale photographic portrait of our planet by Yann Arthus-Bertrand, two free workshops run jointly by the SAW Trust and The Forum Trust encouraged participants to explore environmental issues in their writing.

See photos from this project.



National Science Learning Centre, York, March 2007

SAW founder Anne Osbourn ran a workshop for teachers, educational advisers and scientists at the National Science Learning Centre in York. The primary aims of the course were to:

  • develop confidence to inspire children about science,
  • explore new and innovative ways to develop children’s enquiry skills,
  • consider creative approaches to science, including cross-curricular links, and
  • share best practise.

Participants commented: "We got access to fantastic photos and how to use them", "Very good examples of how to link science to art and literacy" and "Very easy to follow up".