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Podcast: What to know when putting together science festivals

Written by Ben Newsome on June 7th, 2017.      0 comments

Vanessa Barratt and the FizzicsEd Podcast Episode 4

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Vanessa Barratt is a highly experienced science teacher and who has also worked for a variety of sites such as the Australian Museum, London’s Natural History Museum, Taronga Zoo and more. Her current role as a science communicator with Sydney’s Royal Botanic Garden has seen her put on major science festivals such as Science in the Swamp in Centennial Parklands and Jurassic Garden in Australian Botanic Garden Mt Annan.

In this podcast episode we discuss what it’s really like to put together a science festival that people will want to attend and lessons she’s learned whilst working closely with scientists to help them engage with the public.


About Vanessa Barratt

Vanessa Barratt teaching in Shenzhen
Vanessa Barratt teaching in Shenzhen, China

Vanessa is a highly experienced teacher and science communicator with a strong history of working in a range of high profile, much-loved scientific organisations. Currently Vanessa works for Sydney's Royal Botanic Garden as a science communicator which covers sites such as the Australian Botanic Garden Mt Annan, Centennial Parklands and Blue Mountains Botanic Garden in Mt Tomah and is completing her Masters of Science Communication.

Top 3 learnings

  1. Don’t rest on your reputation. Don’t get blinded by a ‘shiny logo’, there are fantastic educators in schools, preschools and more. Whilst there are enormously famous museums that grab the headlines there is also fantastic work being done by your local cultural institutions as well. For museum educators… you’re only good as your last show!
  2. Work with your stakeholders. Find out what they need to know, learn from them and create events that reflect both the needs of both the public that is visiting your site as well as the needs of the scientists who are helping you put on the event. If it doesn’t work, pivot your ideas and try again.
  3. Don’t worry be happy! As much as we like to plan everything out when it comes to our careers and projects it can also be just as important to relax and take opportunities and chances as they come.

Extra Education tip

Create a science meme! Create a shareable image found on Meme Generator, Image Chef or Meme Creator where you can type a message over the top of the image to convey an idea. Use this to have a bit of fun with posters on lab safety, a science topic you’re studying or simply to grab students attention when it comes to their homework assignments.

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Further contact details for Vanessa Barratt

Find Vanessa on LinkedIn

Interesting book to read that was discussed in this episode

During this podcast we talked about an upcoming exhibition at the garden on distillation of alcohol from different plants. This reminded me of a fantastic book by Amy Stewart which goes in to the science and history of the creation of alcohol from all manner of plants (not just barley and potato but from cacao, paw paw and melons and more). This not a book on making cocktails, it's a book that covers the real botanical science and the hidden history that is found behind the drinks the world knows.

Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart book cover
Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart

Stewart, Amy. The Drunken Botanist: the Plants That Create the World's Great Drinks. Chapel Hill, N.C. :Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2013. Print.

About the FizzicsEd Podcast

With interviews with leading science educators and STEM thought leaders, this science education podcast is about highlighting different ways of teaching kids within and beyond the classroom. It's not just about educational practice & pedagogy, it's about inspiring new ideas & challenging conventions of how students can learn about their world!

Know an educator who'd love this episode? Share it!

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Happy teaching

Ben Newsome
Find out more about the author


NEW Primary science teaching book

Be Amazing; How to teach science, the way primary kids love

Be Amazing; How to teach science, the way primary kids love!

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Be Amazing Book Front Cover; Ben Newsome, teacher & founder of Fizzics Education. Be Amazing -how to teach science the way primary kids love
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