To celebrate the 350th anniversary of the oldest science journal from the Royal Society, science presenter Jon Wood will be touring the country and joining us to perform at the Lancashire Science festival.
His science show, Subliming the ridiculous, will show us how we moved from the mysteries of alchemy to the science of chemistry; how we disproved the classical Greek elements, earth air, fire and water.
It all started when he was younger, his father gave him a set of small tools and he started taking things like old water pumps apart and putting them back together again. After this happened he said: “It was already too late for me, I was going to be a scientist.”
“It was a random nine year old girl visiting my university who asked me, “What are you going to be when you grow up?” She inspired me to move to what I do now. I design and perform science shows for schools and family audiences, while helping scientists and engineers translate their research into activities that everyone can understand.”
As well as performing Jon spends his time delivering hands-on workshops, making short films and science busking to anybody too slow to get away. His favourite project to date is his ‘Half Baked Heroes’ show.
He said: “Just as I was inspired to study science by what I found around the home, I’m sharing some of my favourite ‘kitchen based’ discoveries. Who would have thought that we could learn about physics, chemistry and biology from fruit and veg.”
Science communication is important because it can be in a language we all speak, it can be translating the complicated words that researchers use and telling stories about the fascinating work they do.
Jon added: “Sometimes those stories have pictures; sometimes they are songs; sometimes they have jokes; sometimes they have really loud bangs or things that make you go ‘hmm’. Science communication is as creative as science is and who knows where the next brilliant idea will come from.”
He said what really makes him “chime” is the fact that “there is nothing more satisfying than seeing parents push their children to the front so they can be ‘entertained’, only to find that they themselves creep closer and closer, because they have caught a glimpse of something they themselves don’t understand. Within no time, the parents are fascinated and have been inspired to try out some science with their children when they get home.”
We asked Jon what he is looking forward to at this year’s festival, he said: “A festival is exactly that, a huge party. Think Brazil and Rio… but with marginally less feathers.
“A city full of overexcited scientists are coming to see you for a few days. They want to show you what science has been up to. Yes, we’re up early; yes, we’re up late; yes, we get tired. But all that hard work is made up of the things we love doing. What’s not to like?!”
Keep up to date with his work and upcoming projects by following Jon on Twitter.
Tip for anyone wanting to get into science communication:
“Be yourself, look at what hobbies/interests/passions/unusual skills you have and see whether you can tell a science story using what you love doing already. It won’t be perfect; nobody is a natural. It takes a little training, a lot of practice and the willingness to never stop learning.”