It all started with his Atomic Physics Ph.D, his supervisors were keen to communicate the original research they were doing and one of the most enjoyable aspects for him was the science outreach.
Matt was given the opportunity to participate in the university open days and Christmas lectures. The ‘Lab in a Lorry’ and ‘Meet the Scientist’ projects were launched during that time and he got to be one of the first round of trainees.
After graduating he spent a year training on a Drama and Theatre in Education course which exposed him to performing shows in schools and theatrical direction skills. Matt then started working part time in the Education team at Thinktank Science Museum where his days were spent presenting workshops and shows classrooms and theatres.
Ever since he was a kid, his passion has been magic and illusion. Alongside the above experiences Matt used his time off work to perform at parties, weddings, stand up comedy clubs and touring his theatre shows around the UK festivals.
He said: “It was inevitable that my love of science discovery, magic and communication would crossover. I’m fortunate to be in the position to earn a living and travel the world doing all three in my Science Magic Shows.”
Most of Matt’s work now is presenting shows and workshops, combining his love of magic with science and maths. A science festival is a fantastic opportunity for both visitors and participants to explore and discover new things in a really fun and enjoyable format.
Matt said: “The LSF brings together some of the country’s best science presenters and combines that with the cutting edge research being done at UCLAN. I come away from the festival inspired and having learnt loads.”
As well as performing Matt also provides consultancy and training, his motivation for turning into a full time freelancer was a commission from the ss Great Britain trust to write and deliver a KS3 science magic show inspired by Brunel.
We asked Matt what he is most looking forward to the festival, he said: “I visit a lot of science festivals and the LSF has to be the friendliest and best organised festival I’ve experienced. I love meeting old friends and making new ones. For 2015 one of my highlights will be seeing the giant dinosaurs that will be roaming campus!”
He believes science communication is simplifying the complex and communicating it in an original and creative manner. For him there is something special in presenting to children. They still have innocence and curiosity that by the time they turn into adults has been beaten out of them. Inspiring curiosity, wonder and playfulness in an audience is a major motivation for him.
He said: “One of my pet hates is when I attend a science day in a school and the kids have been encouraged to turn up dressed as scientists. You look out over a school hall full of mini ‘mad science’ Einsteins and Big Bang Theory nerds. The teachers tend to actively reinforce this bad stereotype by dressing up in the same.
“As science communicators we have to fight this idea that scientists are either in the super intelligent elite or the socially inept geek (or both). For me science is a way of thinking not a career and anyone can be a scientist by exploring the amazing world we live in.”
Follow Matt on Twitter to keep up to date with his latest news and events.
Tip for anyone wanting to get into science communication:
“Follow your passions. Feed and invest in your passions (books, videos, site visits, conferences etc.) Grasp every opportunity and gain lots of experience. Put in the work. Reflect on what you do. Learn from mistakes. Pick yourself up when it doesn’t work out. Study other communicators (not just scientists). Be yourself. Attend the BIG event (British Interactive Group). Don’t get your audiences to cheer like pirates.”