On my #SoapBox

Previous SoapBox Science speakers

Earlier this year I was thrilled to be asked to be part of SoapBox Science, a great event going into it’s 9th year, showcasing nearly 1000 female scientists worldwide who all seek to inspire people and increase visibility of female scientists by talking about their research directly to the public. So, on May 25th, I’m going to be literally standing on a soapbox on the Southbank of London, talking to anyone who will listen about Fodies and how awesome they are!

I attended a training programme last Friday about developing ideas for the day and what to expect, and one of the really useful things that we did was try to summarise our talks using only the 1000 most common words in English. This is what I came up with:
“There are less animals. We are making things worse. More rain and more warm air means less baby flying things. But a long year means more baby flying things! How do we know? And how can we help?”

I will be on my soapbox for an hour, sometime between 2 and 5pm. I’m going to split my talk into two sections; I want to cover intrinsic and extrinsic limitations on Fody reproductive output, and how changing environments can negatively and positively impact on bird species.

The first section will be something about climate change and climate unpredictability; I haven’t yet worked out how I’m going to use props for this, but I will talk about synchronicity in nesting efforts by Fodies and how unpredictable and changing climates are really bad for them.

The second part will be more optimistic; I’ll talk about the long breeding season that the Fodies have on Ile Aux Aigrettes, and how the environment determines the number of nests that the birds can fit into each season. I’m going to illustrate this with a little game based around chocolate Shredded Wheat* nests and Mini Eggs**, where people have to gather resources to a certain level before they are allowed to lay*** a nest within a breeding season of a particular time. I might even use an EGG TIMER (get it??) to time attempts, and then show how more time in a breeding season means more time to gather resources and make nests.

These ideas are still very much in development, but I’m having a lot of fun thinking about how to demonstrate these ideas and I am so thrilled in general to be part of events like these. Science is totally accessible, but kids need role models; if even one girl looks at me while I talk too fast at her about my science, and thinks that one day she could talk too fast at people about her science too, then I’ll count it as a success.

*Other wheat cereals are available.
**Other sugar coated chocolate eggs are available.

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