Capturing Nature and the Adult Imagination Part 1

Blogtober Day 3 – Reflecting on the start of my MSc Science Communication project

Amongst other things this summer, I’ve been completing my MSc Science Communication research project. I think I may have mentioned it a few times, but apart from a brief update at the start of my project, I’ve never explicitly said what it’s all about. This is the moment you’ll find out!

When a lecturer told us that we could do our project on any aspect of science and science communication, it left a few of us at a loose end. I started to by applying to work with the Bristol Natural History Consortium as they had set out a broad scope for what a project with them would entail. After some initial brainstorming with my parents, I was able to propose to the BNHC what I wanted to do; a photography competition followed by an exhibition.

The aim of this photography competition was to encourage adults to get out into their local natural surroundings and discover the diversity of wildlife just that was probably just a few steps away from their front door.

However, enticing people to enter the photography competition was difficult with only a £30 Amazon voucher and the prospect of having their photograph displayed that the Festival of Nature to offer. Early on it was apparent that advertising on social media was doing little to drum up the attention I had been hoping for and so with help from the BNHC, I resorted to manually posting on different nature Facebook groups to make my competition more visible. It’s always encouraging when people tag their friends in the comments section of your post and I was hopeful that lots of people would enter. My eyes were constantly checking my e-mail for entries and they trickled in.

Finally, disaster struck! Someone I’d met through Sci Comm socials in Bristol worked for the BSA and advertised my competition on their social media but just as the entries were rolling in, the survey site that I was using to enter people into the competition went down for maintenance and quite a few people missed out on submitting their photo! I was really disappointed, but I’d managed to get 23 quality entries so I was satisfied that I had enough data.

Next I handed over the photos to some photographer friends to judge them and rank their top 10. From this I pulled out 5 finalists who had the most points from the rankings. Then it was onto printing and designing my stall. I trawled the internet for cheap photo printing services and eventually ended up ringing local businesses to try and get a quote that wouldn’t bankrupt me!

Bristol Business Centre saved the day and printed my photos in a matter of minutes for a fraction of the cost quoted by other companies! All that was left to do was create the contents for my stall. First I mounted the photographs along with their titles and the name of the photographers; easy peasy – not quite but I managed in the end after quite a few trips to the Range for more black mountboard after cutting everything wonky!

Making my sign for the stall was probably the most fun; I printed out several of my own photographs along with the name of the competition and stuck them together at jaunty angles- the people organising the tent I was in urged me to get a banner printed but I couldn’t afford to get it done professionally! This was a real student-conquers-the-world moment for me; making all my stall materials by hand including a box to collect some questionnaires in and a line of bunting to spruce up the space was so satisfying!

I was given a space in the UWE Bristol tent and what a great space it was; originally I was holed away in a corner at the back of the tent but suddenly I was placed between the entrance and exit so that people encountered me twice while they visited the other stalls!

Apart from being questioned by security about borrowing a kitchen stool from my halls of residence, setting up the stall went smoothly and took a lot less time than I thought it would; everything was attached onto the display boards via the magic of Velcro and went up in minutes! Although it has a definite homemade vibe to it I’m really proud of my stand and what I managed to achieve on my own!

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For the second part of this post about my project click here.

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