As 3pm approached on Tuesday 22nd of November, a recognisable yet intriguing voice could be heard emanating from the museum of the Joseph Black Building.
Quentin Cooper was in the building!
The science journalist and facilitator known to most for his 14 years at the helm of Radio 4's Material World, was in Edinburgh to talk about how society can dispel the stereotypical images of scientists, as part of the Enlightenment Lecture series.
Jennifer Bos had assembled student science communicators to meet with Quentin and highlight the public engagement activities run by the school.
First up were Sara, Sam and Rachel who talked about the International Year of Light ceilidh, for which they had choreographed dances explaining optical phenomenon and light-based research. This including the showing of short videos that had been produced as online resources to enhance the learning experience.
Next, Megan mentioned the Midlothian Science Festival Schools Program, where most recently UoE chemistry students captivated kids at Paradykes Primary school with a "Fantastic Plastic" workshop. Megan also gave a live demonstration of how to make colourful biodegradable plastic from all renewable sources, and talked about her experience winning "I'm A Scientist, Get Me Out Of Here!" - an X Factor-like competition, where school students are the judges.
Dancing Light Workshops at Midlothian Science Festival were the topic of Rachel's presentation, as she described how dancing with photons and ribbons could help imbue children with an understanding of the more confusing side of the nature of light.
Jess talked about the range of science festivals that UoE chemistry students have been involved in, from the local-scale like Dunbar, to county-level like Midlothian, to Edinburgh International Science Festival; one of Europe's largest and longest running public celebrations of science and technology.
Finally, our Spectroscopy In A Suitcase coordinator Hannah explained how this kit from the Royal Society of Chemistry is used to demonstrate the applications of spectroscopy (such as UV-vis, IR and NMR) through real-life contexts, including a murder mystery activity.
After swapping a few more public engagement anecdotes and strategies, it was time for Quentin to head to George Square and give his talk, leaving our sci-comm team to make sure the remaining mince pies were taken care of.