We are Rosy and Dave Ansell.
We have worked in a wide range of science communication contexts, including: developing and building content for permanent science centre exhibits; developing and building props and demonstrations for our own and other people's science shows; writing and presenting science shows; managing one-off and repeating science outreach events with volunteers in venues ranging from schools to town halls to village shows; developing and recording science experiements for families to try at home on video and live radio.
We are both science graduates with a broad scientific background and wider interests. Between us we have studied physics, chemistry, geology, materials science, cell biology and biochemistry (as well as primary education). We also have a combined total of nearly 10 years' research lab experience.
We first started building demos and exhibits for Cambridge Hands-On Science (CHaOS which Dave co-founded) in the living room of Dave's student flat, mainly from parts acquired from university skips, developing a flexible, original approach to kit design. Having graduated via a series of (variously leaky) garages in shared houses around Cambridge, the current workshop is well equipped for building all sorts of demos and small-to-medium sized exhibits.
We specialise in smaller exhibits: when we were setting up the Cambridge Science Centre, Dave developed a modular exhibit standard around which (almost) all their exhibits are based. The modular exhibit system means that exhibits are much cheaper to build, since the support structure can be shared. It means that any exhibit which needs maintenance or repairs can be swapped out for a replacement in a matter of minutes and replaced with a substitute, keeping those embarassing 'out-of-order' notices to a bare minimum. It also means that, as with CSC's early 'Library Science Lab' (managed and run by Rosy in 2012) and their current placement of exhibits in bank branches around Cambridgeshire, exhibits can be swapped in and out in rotation to provide variety and encourage repeat visitors, and because the stands remain in place the swaps can be carried out (even in pedestrianised zones) with a family car and a sack trolley.
As well as our shared long term involvements with CHaOS and CSC, we have a variety of other relevant experience that influences our approaches.
In 2015-16, Rosy went through primary teacher training, as well as having other experience working in schools (at present she's working as a part-time teaching assistant in a local primary school). She has an up-to-date understanding both of the primary school curriculum and the pressures on schools and teachers.
We have built demos for the Royal Instiution Christmas Lectures in 2015 and 2016. In 2016, Rosy was the lecture technician in the run up to filming, arranging everything from steam turbines, to means to stop a cow getting vertigo in a glass lift.
Dave worked 2005-2013 for the Naked Scientists working making science radio. During this time he:
- developed kitchen science experiments for families to try at home, recording them for broadcast or carrying them out live in the studio, as well as writing them up in detail for the website.
- selected science news stories for discussion on air, including extensive practise in comparing press releases with the corresponding academic publications.
- interviewed scientists on air and in their research labs (and received invitations to apply for research posts from more than one).
- answered questions from members of the public live on air.
Dave's role at the Naked Scientists also involved
- developing and maintaining their website, which includes all their audio back-catalogue as well as transcripts of much of it, write-ups of individual articles and videos. The website was receiving 200 000 unique visitors and 600 000 podcast downloads a month.
- making a number of video series, including the Dr Otherford videos, which are perhaps best experienced rather than explained!
Dave worked for a year in 2005-06 for the IoP's 'Lab in a Lorry', including a tour of South Africa from Cape Town to Johannesburg, visiting schools across the social spectrum.