Public engagement with scientific research is very important, for multiple reasons. Here are three that come to my mind. First, universities perform a central and vital role in creating knowledge and they have a humanistic duty to share findings, to help others’ self-realisation. Second, in the ‘knowledge economy’ of the 21st century society scientists can have a huge socioeconomic impact in their local community, especially by raising awareness of career opportunities among young people. Third, a country’s taxpayers fund much of the work that goes on in universities, and they have a right to know how some of their money is being spent. The knowledge that is created by academic thinkers is arguably ‘co-created’ within the whole ‘community ecology’ of a modern industrial society, that permits some of us to pursue our niche interests!
I have recently begun working with local schools to introduce young students to bio-inspired robotics, given a public lecture and also have done some brief documentary work. For what it is worth, I also try to keep an up-to-date Twitter feed that is publicly available for interested people to follow. On this page, I will log some of my notable activities! If you would like to work with me on delivering some outreach, please get in touch.
16 October 2018 – ‘Animals and robots in groups’ – I spoke to around 15 children (aged 8-10) at St John’s Primary School, Clifton, about how engineers look to animals for inspiration. I did a Kilobot demonstration showing synchronisation of lights like fireflies, as well as showing a Sphero robot. The school is entering a ‘Tech Factor’ competition to win some robotics kits (Lego WeDo).
8 October 2018 – ‘Swarm robotics: holding a mirror up to nature?’. I gave the keynote talk to kick off the Malvern Festival of Innovation. In a local newspaper: “Highlights included an opening talk from Dr Edmund Hunt of the University of Bristol’s robotics lab, explaining how robots are being programmed to cooperate in swarms using nature as a blueprint.”
15 June 2018 – Bristol University Open Day. Helped to run a ‘swarm stall’ for potential undergraduate students and their parents.