Monday, 26 August 2013

Meet Me in the City

The 'Sex & Bugs' tent at INTECOL
The BES Roadies made a special appearance at INTECOL 2013 in London last week. 

One of the largest international gatherings of ecologists, the INTECOL Congress takes place every four years and was hosted by the British Ecological Society as part of the centenary celebrations this year.
Georgina Mace and Bill Sutherland
(outgoing & incoming BES presidents)
 identifying mushroom scents.

A mere 18 hours after the end of Green Man Festival in Wales, the stall was set up on the main 'boulevard' in the enormous Excel Exhibition and Convention Centre in Docklands, East London. Our signature blue flowery tent was somewhat dwarfed by the sheer size of the building (which has 100,000 m2 of floor space and two DLR stops) but still attracted a lot of attention.

BES presidents play the poogame.
A picture speaks 1000 words
- even when it's out of focus.

The bees are taking a well-earned break in Frazer's garden and we had swapped the usual displays on pollinators and microbes for posters describing our activities, introducing the team, and showing the amount of work involved in making 'Sex & Bugs & Rock 'n Roll' such as success. 
We also handed out some of our giveaways to conference delegates but as we've now had over 5000 visitors, we've already run out of stickers! And we're still looking forward to Butserfest on 14th September.

On Wednesday we welcomed special guest and science busker par excellence David Price from Science Made Simple and invaded the Wednesday poster session with the 'poogame' and 'magic mushrooms' to demonstrate science busking. BES presidents Georgina Mace (2012-2013) and Bill Sutherland (2013-2014) joined in the fun and tested their years of ecological knowledge with the 'magical world of mushroom scents' and 'whose poos?'.

Why peat is so important

David brought along a really fantastic busk, which drew quite a crowd. His busk not only demonstrated the importance of peat, but also showed that with creativity and showmanship, you can transform just about any research topic into a fun activity. The film crew at INTECOL filmed the show, so hopefully we'll be able to post that soon.

David's peat busk draws a crowd

With a special mention at the British Ecological Society's Annual General Meeting and a warm reception by delegates from all over the world, I think we can be fairly sure we've not only demonstrated to festival-goers that ecology can be fascinating and fun - but also shown researchers that outreach work can be really enjoyable too! 

Demonstrating plant-soil
interactions in peatlands

BES Roadies at INTECOL were: Frazer Bird, Emma Sayer, Hannah Griffiths, Will Gosling, Sarah Pierce, Tom Walker, Matt Heard, Thea Powell.

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