I would buy a high quality videocamera and media software to create short films of our research to distribute to the public and to schools to get you involved in our work and give us your opinions of what we are doing. The public fund our work and they deserve to see what we are doing and have some opportunity to talk to us about it and influence our thinking. They also need to see the facts and correct information rather than the hype, misinterpretation and emotional views portrayed in the press and media.
A lot of people don’t really know what scientists do – they often assume that all scientists permanently wear lab coats and never come out of laboratories! TV makes the situation even worse because scientists in films are always about to blow up the world (either because they want to or because they’ve made a huge mistake!). These sort of ideas put people off science subjects without ever finding out the types of jobs they’ll be missing!
I’m one of the organisers of “Discover!” which is a Saturday club running activities and visits to places like Aberthaw power station and British Airways Maintenance Centre! One of the activities I help out in is helping students to obtain images from beautiful mineral samples like calcite, quartz and even meterorite! Each of the students receives a t-shirt with an image they designed themselves! We work with Professor Richard Weston who developed the technique and is now selling material printed from his own images to Liberty of London! I’ve uploaded the image I had on my t-shirt this year! Other activities include building a prosthetic hand and using facilities in Cardiff which control a telescope in Hawaii!
Unfortunately this club can only take 30 people at a time – I’d like to buy 2 video cameras so that the students who attend the club can make a film about their experiences which will be available on the web for people who can’t come in person!